At the end of business today, a number of draft picks will see their exclusive signing rights expire and become unrestricted free agents. One of those names is Samuel Walker, a seventh-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning who served as captain at the University of Minnesota the last few seasons. Though it doesn’t look like he’ll be signing with the Lightning, that doesn’t mean Walker isn’t looking at an NHL future.
Michael Russo of The Athletic reports that the Minnesota Wild are one of “many teams in the mix” for Walker’s services, and notes that though the 23-year-old forward is technically eligible to return to college for another year, he is unlikely to do so.
If the Lightning and Walker have already decided to part ways, they could have given him the freedom to start looking for options elsewhere. With that in mind, he could be a quick signing when things open up tomorrow as he looks for the next step in his hockey career.
In 144 games for the Golden Gophers, Walker scored 48 goals and 112 points, while earning several Big Ten honors including Rookie of the Year and the Sportsmanship Award. Walker was the 200th overall pick in 2017.