The Trade-Mart Dundee Stars are delighted to announce the signing of American winger, Johnny Walker for the 2023-2024 Elite League campaign.
The 26-year-old, forward joins the club after spending the last two seasons icing in the ECHL with Utah Grizzlies, where he contributed 22 points (14G, 8A) in 44 regular season appearances.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Johnny will make his first move into European hockey after playing his entire career so far in the United States, as he spent five years playing at Arizona State University in the NCAA, between 2017-2022.
The 6-foot-1-inch-tall, right winger, is also the all-time leading scorer for the Arizona State Suns Devils in goals (70), points (123) and game-winning goals (8).
The 185lbs forward has also spent three seasons playing in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and two years in the United States Hockey League (USHL) as a junior, icing for three clubs and winning the 2016-2017 USHL Clark Cup with Chicago Steel.
After beginning his hockey career in 2011 with Culver Military Academy, Walker would play for both their Under-16’s side and Prep team, before starting a three-year stint with Minot Minotauros in the NAHL.
Johnny would then split the 2015-2016 campaign between Minot, Chicago (USHL) and the Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL), recording a career-high 53 points across a total of 55 games, that season.
After committing to join the NCAA’s Sun Devils in 2017, the American would go on to record 123 points in 139 collegiate matches across his five seasons at Arizona State and put himself on the radar of NHL scouts as a possible free agent signing.
Walker then made his professional debut with Utah Grizzlies at the end of the 2021-2022 season after finishing his senior year in college and he has also held two on-ice leadership roles as he captained Arizona State in the 2020-2021 campaign and was an alternate captain in his final season with Minot.
LEFEBVRE ON WALKER
After signing his first new import, Stars Director of Hockey Operations and Head Coach, Marc LeFebvre, said: “We are excited to have him, he is a very enthusiastic guy and after speaking to him on the phone and doing my research on him, he is a great fit for our organisation.
“He brings a bit of everything to our line-up, he has some skill, he plays with that attitude that we are kind of looking for in our roster.
“We want guys who will go into the trenches and battle for pucks, get into those scrums after whistles and we want to be a tough team to play against and make those games hard for everybody.”
He continued: “I want a team full of those kinds of guys, I would rather have a guy who I maybe have to put a leash on a little bit sometimes, who kind of walks that edge and sometimes crosses that line.
“I would rather have them than some guys who I have to tap and tell them to get going, because I want guys who are energetic, ready to play every night and who bring something to the game.”
Explaining how the deal came together, the Canadian Coach said: “It is probably the fastest signing I have ever made.
“I talked to him for about 15 minutes and about 10 minutes later, the agent called me and said let’s get it wrapped up, so it was a bit of a whirlwind but we are excited to have him.
“He is going to bring a lot of grit and sandpaper to our line-up and he is pretty tough too, he likes to drop the gloves but he also has a great skillset that is going to allow him to score goals.
“Johnny likes to be a pain in the ass in front of the net and we want those guys to go to the hard areas and make it tough on the opposing defensemen and goalies.”
With his roster starting to come together, LeFebvre commented: “It is about being patient and finding the right guy and we have found that in Johnny, he plays the kind of hockey that we want to play and what he brings not only on the ice but off the ice too, and I am sure he is going to be a fan favourite.”
WALKER ON HIS FIRST MOVE TO EUROPE
Once his move to Dundee was confirmed, an ecstatic Johnny said: “I am excited to be a Star and I cannot wait to get out there and start playing some hockey.
“It is such a great opportunity, not only to play hockey but to get out and see the world and meet new people, as well as growing as a person and also as a hockey player, so it is a dream come true and I cannot wait to get there.”
The American also shared how LeFebvre convinced him to make the move to the Elite League and Scotland.
Johnny added: “It was my first offer and after speaking with Marc, I knew pretty much right away.
“When you google searched the city and the fact that Marc came back, it is obviously a great place to play, so as soon as I got off the phone with him, it was as quick as we could to sign the deal and get things going.
“He talked about being able to play your own game, taking care of the D-zone and working hard, which are my three favourite things.
“Also, he mentioned winning a championship and all I want to do is win, I love hockey and I love being a winner doing it, so like I keep saying I just cannot wait to get over there and start winning games.”
Discussing making the step up from college to professional hockey just two summers ago, Walker commented: “Playing pro hockey compared to college was obviously different, guys are bigger, stronger and what I have taken from that league, is that I was not quite the size I needed to be but that is what I will be bringing to Dundee.
“A hard and physical, ECHL-type play, with a touch of learning how to play in Europe.”
In his 12-year-career so far, Johnny has featured in 390 matches, recorded 152 goals, 138 assists and collected 899 penalty minutes, while also playing in 35 playoff games, where he tallied 14 points (4G, 10A) and 34 penalty minutes.
Johnny is our 7th signing of the summer and joins Drydn Dow, Lucas Brine, Kris Inglis, Jonathan McBean, Craig Moore and Craig Garrigan on the roster for next season.
Walker will wear #56 for the Stars and you can sponsor his equipment for this season right now, click HERE.
To see Johnny’s career stats on Elite Prospects click HERE.
Banner Image: Arizona State Athletics.