The Los Angeles Kings have been struggling with injury and one of them is defenseman Sean Walker.
On October 25, 2021, he was confirmed as done for the year after tearing his ACL and MCL during Monday’s game against St. Louis Blues. It was then reported that his injury definitely required surgery. The 27-year-old blueliner was placed on injured reserve that year.
However, while there is still no official news, fans and the Kings community question whether Walker’s time in Los Angeles is over or not. Although Walker is proven as an NHL defenseman, his career may face the end due to his unfortunate injury.
No need to freak out re: Last 2 RT's.
If you do the math, today's moves bring the Kings as close as possible to the salary cap to maximize LTIR relief for Edler/Walker. Gives team maximum flexibility.
— Zach Dooley (@DooleyLAK) December 20, 2021
Walker career history
Sean Walker signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings on July 2nd, 2018. People see him as the ideal defenseman that could turn into something great in the NHL.
Signing after two seasons in the AHL with Ontario Reign from 2017-2019, Walker was 24 years old and in the progress of proving himself. In 2017-18, he played in 64 games, making seven goals, 21 assists, and striking 28 points in total during the regular season, making it his best season. Meanwhile, in the playoff seasons, he made 1 goal and 1 assist in four games.
During the 2018-19 season, the Keswick-native played 22 games, hitting 6 goals and 11 assists, in a total of 17 points. The team did not play in the playoffs that year.
In his first contract with the Los Angeles, Walker split time between NHL Kings and AHL Ontario Reign. With the Kings, he had 10 points in 39 games. In the following season, 2019-20, he played in 70 games and tallied 24 points. For a free agent signing, he seemed to exceed expectations. Thus, it looked like he was finally going to be a lifetime NHL full-timer.
In the 2020-21 season, he won the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Latvia. In that same year, the Kings also rewarded the world champion a four-year extension worth $10.6 million. This would make his average annual value $2.65 million.
Things turned upside down as the player was forced to undergo surgery. This also made the Kings act aggressively to find a replacement soon. A couple of days later, Sean Durzi was called up from the Ontario Reign.
Sean Durzi on the team
Previously in the Ontario Reign, Durzi had 14 points in 39 games in the 2019-20 season. Although he was claimed as not being waiver eligible, the Kings gave the 24-year-old prospect a chance in the NHL.
In 49 games with the Kings, he had 23 points in 49 games. With this in mind, he is believed to have earned the spot on the NHL roster. Though it might be doubtful that someone would take the spot away from him, having Durzi may have caused an issue for the Kings.
With a load of right-handed defensemen in the system, it is hard to imagine Walker coming back next year after recovering unless he becomes a left-hander. With established veterans like Drew Doughty and Matt Roy to go along with Durzi and Jordan Spence looking NHL ready, it may be hard for Walker to regain his spot once more.
It will likely be more challenging as Walker will need to go the extra mile if he wishes to continue his NHL career. Another way would be if he could get traded to another team if possible. With all the younger generation coming in and playing at a rate that is hard to predict, there might be no more space for a player like Walker anymore.