Playing for the Everett Silvertips in the WHL's U.S. Division meant regular appointments with high-scoring teams such as the Portland Winterhawks, who led the league in goals scored, and the Tri-City Americans, who had three 100-point scorers. Meantime, Everett was just trying to scrape together enough points for a playoff berth. Lo and behold, though, Walters emerged as one of the underrated shutdown defencemen in the NHL draft class of 2012, helping the 'Tips make the post-season after a very slow start. He also earned an invitation to last weekend's NHL Scouting Combine along with his highly touted teammate Ryan Murray.
"We struggled in the first part of the season, got like six wins or something," the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Walters said. "But since I'm here [at the scouting combine I must have done something to get noticed. I think it helped with Ryan [Murray] on my team. Scouts come to watch him and if you produce, they notice you too."
The 18-year-old Walters tallied six goals and 18 points in 62 games for Everett, while amassing 95 points. His plus/minus was -27, but that probably reflected that he was on a classic hard-working team which scored only 132 non-power play goals, making it tough for a defensive defenceman to earn a coveted plus. By most accounts, he was consistent throughout the year, as his NHL Central Scouting ranking barely budged — 68th among North American skaters in January and 69th in April's final ranking. That suggests he's pretty steady. Becoming more physical as he keeps physically maturing and becoming more at ease with the WHL could help him kick up his game a notch after the draft.
Walters, who's from St. Albert, Alta., played with Murray occasionally on special teams; the two left-shot defencemen usually weren't paired together. But Walters notes playing with a top prospect helped.
"I learned a lot from Ryan watching what he does in the rink and outside the rink," said Walters, who added he also leaned on overage Josh Birkholz for support this season.Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Nick Walters, Everett Silvertips