Austin Watson attracted the eyes of scouts with an incredible performance at the Top Prospects game, but it was a performance that ended up costing him as well. Watson broke his foot blocking a shot and ended up missing more than a month thanks to the injury.
Watson’s offence blossomed after he was dealt away from the stacked Windsor Spitfires; after putting up 11 goals and 34 points in 43 games with limited ice-time he got more of an opportunity in Peterborough – putting up nine goals and 20 points in just 10 games. Despite the offensive output, Watson’s viewed as a versatile scorer whose true strengths lie elsewhere. He stands 6’3” and is renowned as a two-way player who can handle big minutes on the penalty kill and generally lines up against the best the opposition has to offer.
Watson’s not a phenomenal skater, and he’s lanky, meaning that as with most prospects his age he needs to bulk up and add some strength. Additionally, he’s not regarded as a natural scorer the way other players in the draft are, and it’s fair to ask if his Peterborough performance was an aberration or represented a true breakthrough.
the nice thing about Watson is that thanks to his versatility and his size, he’s a safe pick: even if his scoring touch doesn’t top out as high as it might, he could still end up with a nice long NHL career in a bottom-six role somewhere.
McKeen’s Rank: #19 - “Watson flourished in the Petes’ system and became so renowned for his shot blocking that teams were adjusting their power-play to avoid him.”
THN Rank: #15 – “‘He’s a bit of a hidden gem,’ another scout said.’He isn’t going to be the biggest scorer in the world, but he does good things in all three zones.’”