Langley product Walter thrilled to join Flames/Heat organization

For Ben Walter, the opportunity to play close to home was simply too good to pass up.

For Ben Walter, the opportunity to play close to home was simply too good to pass up.

The Langley product, coming off a career year with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters, inked a two-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) deal with the Calgary Flames on Saturday, the second day of the unrestricted free agent signing period.

Cracking the Flames’ roster is Walter’s ultimate goal, but if that doesn’t materialize, playing for the Abbotsford Heat would be a pretty nice consolation prize.

“Either way, whether I’m in Calgary or in Abbotsford, I’m closer to home than I ever have been in my career,” Walter said, speaking to The News on Monday. “My family lives in the Langley area, and my wife’s family is from the Ladner/Tsawassen area. We always come back in the summer – we’re living in Vancouver right now.

“So that definitely played a big part in it.”

Walter, the son of former NHLer Ryan Walter, was born in Beaconsfield, Que. during his dad’s nine-year tenure with the Montreal Canadiens. He moved with his family to B.C. when he was seven years old after his father signed with the Vancouver Canucks.

Walter played his junior A hockey for the Langley Hornets before earning an NCAA scholarship to UMass-Lowell. The Boston Bruins drafted him in the fifth round in 2004, and he has 24 NHL games under his belt with the Bruins, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.

The 27-year-old centre put together a terrific 2010-11 campaign with Lake Erie, the Colorado Avalanche’s affiliate. He finished ninth in AHL scoring with 70 points (23 goals, 47 assists) in 77 games, marking the fifth straight season he’s hit the 20-goal and 50-point plateaus in the AHL.

“I pride myself on playing well at both ends of the ice,” he said. “I try to make the guys around me better. I’m more of a set-up guy than a shooter, and I like to help the guys out and make things happen a bit.”

As an experienced forward who can generate offence, Walter is precisely the type of player the Heat needed more of this past season. The NHL parent Flames certainly saw a lot of value in adding Walter to the organization – his two-way contract is worth a reported $275,000 annually in the AHL.

“Ben is a consistent goal scorer and point producer at the AHL level who is also very good on draws,” Flames general manager Jay Feaster said in a press release.

“He is a player our scouts identified during the season last year as someone with very good hockey sense who would significantly add to our depth. At the same time, his character and work ethic are such that we are pleased to have him leading the way for our younger players in Abbotsford.”

Walter, who wore the captain’s ‘C’ in Lake Erie last season, said he relishes the opportunity to mentor younger players.

“It’s part of the game,” he said. “When I was younger, the veteran guys helped me adjust and made me feel welcome, helped me with all the little things that go into pro hockey. If I can help some of the young guys coming in, that’s great.”

Part of Walter’s comfort level in joining the Flames/Heat organization is from chatting with David Van der Gulik. The Abbotsford native and former Heat player (2009-10) was a linemate of Walter’s with Lake Erie last season.

“We talked during the year about it (playing in Abbotsford),” Walter said. “He said he liked living at home, being close to his family and everything. It definitely played a part in my decision, knowing what I was getting into.”

Just Posted

New hospice programs aim eyed for at-home patients and caregivers

Abbotsford Hospice Society set to launch day program for people living at home with terminal illness

Abbotsford Arts Council seeks submissions for 2020 exhibits

Kariton Art Gallery hosts 10 to 12 shows each year

Abbotsford man crafts one-of-a-kind metal sculptures at Green Lake home

‘I am in an office all day and this is my way to get away from all of that’

SLIDESHOW: Symphony in the Park

Free concert at Mill Lake featured Abbotsford’s young orchestra talent

VIDEO: Abbotsford police arrest man suspected of using pepper-spray against another man

Police cruisers collide in pursuit of suspect fleeing on a stolen bicycle

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read