Wild winger Sammy Walker score first goal of his NHL career: ‘It’s unbelievable’

Sammy Walker briefly considered passing the puck in the final minutes of the Wild’s 4-1 victory in Winnipeg on Tuesday night. He collected a pass from Matt Boldy, slid offensively into his zone with a defender in front, and seconds later threw the puck into an empty net.

“I was waiting for someone to join me,” Walker said with a smile. “But you really can’t miss it, so throw it in there.”

It was Walker’s first goal of his young NHL career. It definitely won’t be his last.

When asked how many text messages he’s received in the last 24 hours, the rookie forward at the University of Minnesota shyly replied, “Too many.” he’s still trying to reply to them all.

As for the moment itself, Walker celebrated with linemate Freddie Gaudreau as soon as the shot hit the back of the net. Meanwhile, Boldy made a beeline in the crease to grab the puck for Walker before joining the celebration along the board.

The fact that Walker was there even in the final minutes speaks to the confidence coach Dean Evason has in him—not that Evason takes credit for it.

“They decide who should be on the ice,” said the coach. “If Sammy Walker didn’t play well throughout the game, he wouldn’t be on the ice.”

That’s been the story for most of the past few weeks. Since making his NHL debut on Dec. 10 against the Canucks in Vancouver, his 10, 180-pound walker has quickly earned the trust of his coaching staff. He uses his speed to make an impact and fits like a glove opposite Boldy alongside Gaudreau.

Not bad for the Edina native, who signed with hometown Wild this offseason after a successful college stint with the Gophers last spring.

Did you think he would make an impact so quickly?

“I don’t think anyone did,” Walker said. “That’s incredible.”

As for Evason, I appreciate Walker’s trust in this process.

After playing very well in a short stint in the NHL earlier this month, Walker was sent into the minors about a week before Christmas. Foligno was called again after recovering from minor injuries.

“My career will have its ups and downs,” Walker said. “I think we need to maintain a fair keel so we can get the call and make the most of our opportunities.”

This is exactly how Walker scored his first career goal.

“It’s easy to call now,” said Evason. “Well, how easy is it to call Sammy Walker?

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