On especially lucky days, Walsh snagged signatures from players on his favorite team, the Boston Bruins.
Walsh, whose dad, Mike, played for the Islanders, is now aiming toward being on the other side of the TD Garden glass signing autographs for the Bruins faithful.
The 24-year-old defenseman from Andover agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with Boston on July 17. The Harvard University product views this season, his fourth as a pro, as a crucial one to reach the NHL and wants to make the Bruins’ opening day roster.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Walsh said. “It’s going to be really competitive. There’s a lot of good players and a lot of good defensemen on this team so I’m excited for the challenge. I think it will be fun and, when it all comes down to it, I’m going to have to perform and show what I can do during camp.
“… I’m trying to build a lot of confidence going into camp that I deserve to be there and tell myself that I can be an NHL player and try to have that positive mindset going into camp.”
Walsh, who played for his dad at Proctor Academy, was drafted No. 81 overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot, 185-pound, right-shot offensive-minded defenseman spent the past three seasons with the Utica Comets, New Jersey’s American Hockey League affiliate, where he recorded 23 goals and 76 assists over 174 games.
Walsh, who played in one NHL game with the Devils, said his time with Utica helped him mature as a player, learn how to take care of his body and what it takes to be a pro level player.
Last season, during which Utica reached the AHL North Division semifinals, Walsh finished second on the team in points (41) and assists (32). The most helpful takeaway from last season, Walsh said, was learning not to worry about being on the score sheet and simply evaluate himself based on how he is playing.
“I think when I got through that and stopped stressing out about outside stuff, and just got back to playing my game and having more fun with it and being in it to win games … I found that the success was much better for our team,” Walsh said.
The Bruins, Walsh said, have been following his career since his prep school days and they like the offensive upside that he can bring to the team. Walsh said he has also developed his toughness and learned how to get the inside position on bigger forwards over his time in Utica, where he also played on the power play.
Walsh describes himself as a player who wants to be an uptempo defenseman who makes great reads breaking out, breaks up plays on the rush and is solid defensively — for whichever team he plays for in Boston’s organization to start next season. Walsh said he also feels he can help his team by running a power-play unit.
“Obviously it becomes more rare the higher up you go, where guys are obviously much better than you in certain areas,” Walsh said, “but I think I can be a guy that will strive to play all situations with the ability to make plays on both sides of the puck.”