2023 Flyers New Additions: Sean Walker

Flyers' GM Daniel Briere, Laperrière
FILE – Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team newly appointed Special Assistant to the General Manager, Daniel Briere, arrives for a news conference in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. The Flyers have named long-time television analyst Keith Jones team president of hockey operations and have removed the interim tag from general manager Danny Briere’s title. Jones was a surprise choice Thursday, May 11, 2023, after he spent the last 23 years as an analyst for Flyers telecasts on NBC Sports Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

During his five seasons in the NHL, Sean Walker played exclusively for the Los Angeles Kings. After filing for arbitration, he agreed to a 4yr/$10.6mil contract with the Kings in September 2020.

In 2019-2020, Walker was at his best with the puck. He showed flashes of value on the powerplay (5A) while playing top-four minutes. Walker racked up a career-high hits (81) and a career-worst in turnovers (65) in 70 games.

Rob Blake inked the extension in September 2020, then the injury bug bit Walker in the face and knee in the first two seasons of the new deal.

Walker played most of the pandemic-shortened season in 2020-2021. He missed over three weeks after getting hit in the face by a slapshot in a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild. In 47 games, Walker totaled 18 points (5G, 13A), pacing to raise his career-high despite a drop in powerplay production. His play away from the puck began to flourish instead, exemplified by a noticeable improvement in controlling giveaways. But, the worst was yet to come.

On the road against the St. Louis Blues, six games into the 2021-2022 season, Walker got tangled with David Perron. He couldn’t put any weight on his right knee after tearing his ACL and MCL. Walker didn’t return until 2022-2023, making the Kings opening night lineup out of training camp. Instead of skating in the top four of the defensive unit, Walker rotated in the bottom pair. However, Walker continued to refine his defensive skills, contributing on the penalty kill and blocking a career-high in shots (104).

“Just from where I was last year, to be able to come back and actually play [the] majority of the year, it definitely took me a while to feel a hundred percent. [I’m] really proud to come back after an injury like that and end the year feeling kind of back to myself.”

Sean Walker; 5/1/2023

Then, in the last year of his contract with the Kings, Blake used Walker as an offering to help finesse a deal between two franchises in various rebuild phases.

‘Busy’ was the operative word this offseason for the Philadelphia Flyers. They began by committing to a rebuild with an entirely new front office behind John Tortorella. Then, Daniel Briere traded Ivan Provorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets in June. To complete the transaction, the Kings acted as a middleman to move Provorov to Columbus but held onto Kevin Connauton and Hayden Hodgson.

Philadelphia acquired Walker, Cal Petersen, Helge Grans, and a 2024 second-round pick (later traded with a 2023 sixth-round selection to the Chicago Blackhawks to move up and draft Carson Bjarnason) from Los Angeles. From Columbus, the Flyers received a 2023 first-round pick (Oliver Bonk) and a conditional 2024 second-round pick, which could turn into a 2025 second-round selection.

Projecting to begin on the third pair or rotating with Yegor Zamula as a seventh defenseman, Walker begins his voyage in Philadelphia as he did in Los Angeles. The defensive unit is flexible. If he stays healthy and impresses Tortorella, Walker could ascend to the second pair with Cam York. He offers his best brand of hockey, moving the puck off his stick in the offensive zone paired with a defender more likely to contribute to scoring plays.

Next season, Walker turns 29 years old. When his contract expires, he will be an unrestricted free agent, likely to sign a team-friendly deal with any NHL franchise. The upcoming season serves as an audition with the Flyers ahead of 2024-2025.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)