Espanola Paper Kings of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League have formally certified their affiliation agreement with the assignment of a pair of 2006 birth year prospects.
Goalie Drew Gaulton and defenseman Conor Walton were both in the lineup for Espanola when the Paper Kings began the 2022-2023 NOJHL regular season with a 7-3 win over the Cochrane Crunch. Gaulton made 33 saves in making his NOJHL debut a winning one.
Both players were high picks by Sudbury at the 2022 OHL priority selections draft. The 6-foot-3, 190 pound Gaulton was a second round pick by the Wolves from the Markham Majors of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. And the 6-foot-4, 195 pound Walton was taken by Sudbury in the fourth round from the North York Rangers of the GTHL.
Gaulton and Walton both signed OHL standard player agreement contracts with Sudbury before being assigned to Espanola.
Wolves general manager Rob Papineau noted the development plan in sending both Gaulton and Walton to the Paper Kings.
“Drew is a goalie who we are very high and was a big reason Markham went to the GTHL finals. We used a high pick on Drew and we are committed to bringing him along at the right pace. We know this season will be big for his development to set him up for the future to be a big part of our hockey club,” Papineau said of Gaulton, whose style of play can be described as being very composed and technically sound.
“Conor is still growing and filling in. Defensemen typically need a bit more time to transition to the OHL and we look forward to him continuing to develop (in Espanola) and get stronger and then become a great defender for our team for many years to come,” Papineau said of Walton, who is described as a physical, two-way defender who utilizes his strength and competitiveness to allow him to out muscle opponents to win pucks and position battles.