Paper Kings assisted Spitfires

April 18, 2024

Hulking defenseman Conor Walton is being projected for continued progress as a 2006 birth year performer for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. Notably, prior to his rookie OHL season with Windsor in 2023-2024, Walton developed over a full schedule with the Espanola Paper Kings of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League in 2022-2023.

Conor Walton

Walton, a 6 foot 4, 208 pound defender, skated in 51 NOJHL games and put up 30 points for Espanola in ’22-23 after being a fourth round pick by the Sudbury Wolves at the 2022 OHL priority selections draft.

Subsequently, on the eve of the ’23-24 OHL regular season, Sudbury dealt Walton to Windsor in a blockbuster trade. In the deal, the Wolves obtained well seasoned, 2004 birth year defenseman Nick DeAngelis and fringe defender Trevor O’Dell from the Spitfires in exchange for Walton and four future draft picks that included two seconds, a third and a sixth.

In making the deal to get the veteran defenseman that he coveted in DeAngelis, Wolves general manager Rob Papineau acknowledged at the time that he did not want to include Walton in the trade but the Spitfires insisted on the big blue liner being a part of the package.

“Conor is a great young man and he has a bright future in this game,” Papineau said. “We wanted to acquire an older, veteran defenceman with strong regular season and playoff experience like DeAngelis has and to do so, you need to be willing to sacrifice part of your future.”

To be sure, Walton fit in well over the course of the ’23-24 season as one of three young defensemen with 2006 birth dates on a Spitfires team that missed the playoffs but is expected to return to some form of OHL prominence in 2024-2025.

“(Walton) is big body who can skate,” Windsor general manager Billy Bowler relayed to Hockey News North. “He plays with an edge and has a bite. He has a good upside. Prior to him coming to us, they did a good job up there (in Espanola) helping to develop Conor for the OHL.”

In all, Walton played in 64 of Windsor’s 68 regular season games in ’23-24 and had one, goal, 14 assists, 15 points. He also had the second best plus-minus numbers of any Windsor defenseman.

As far as moving up from the NOJHL to the OHL in the span of a season, Walton’s head coach from his time in Espanola relayed good words about the young defenseman.

“We are super proud of Conor to have made it in the OHL with Windsor,” Espanola coach Jason Rapcewicz told Hockey News North. “It was a pleasure to work with him when he was with us and help him develop his game to be a consistent defender in the OHL for Windsor.”

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