Austin Watson, RW/LW
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Drafted: 2010 by Nashville Predators, 18th overall
June 2017 — The Predators drafted Watson in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft with the 18th overall pick. After seven years in their system, the 25-year old center helped his team to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. During the regular season he scored five goals and 17 points in 77 games, where he was used more in a defensive role as his defensive zone start percentage for this season (70.9%) would suggest. Injuries in Predators line-up bumped Watsons’s average time on ice up by a couple of minutes, in the playoffs and gave him a bigger role.
In the playoffs he scored four goals and nine points in 22 games. His shooting percentage was unsustainably high at 14.3%, way up from his NHL career average which is 6.0%. Watsons’s most valuable asset is his 6’4” frame that he threw around at will in the playoffs, jumping his hits per game average from 1.85 in the regular season to 4.8 in the playoffs. It’s doubtful he can maintain such an increased rate for a full season, but to see him being able to land somewhere in the middle, would be a nice boost for his fantasy value.
22 games is a small sample size, but Watson was able to elevate his game when it mattered the most. Niko Salminen
April 2016 – Watson made the jump to full time NHLer this season, playing in 57 of the Predators 82 games. Watson finished the season with three goals and 10 points. Despite now being an NHL regular, Watson has seemingly settled into a depth role. It's unlikely he'll ever be a consistent top six forward and he has been passed on the Predators depth chart by younger and higher potential options. Consider him a longshot to be relevant in fantasy hockey. Donesh Mazloum
June 2014 – Watson showed solid improvement in his second AHL season increasing his goal and point totals. He finished second in goals on the Admirals with 22 and third in points with 46. Barring any offseason free agent signings, Watson will battle for a spot on the Predators for the 2014/2015 season. With stiff competition from other Predators prospects such as Forsberg, Jarnkrok, and Beck; Watson may need another year of seasoning in the AHL before he is ready for full time duty. Austin Watson has good potential but he is a player who excels defensively and his abilities in those areas could potentially pigeon-hole him into a more defensive role. The opportunity to develop into a ‘Ryan Kesler-type’ of player who does it all definitely remains. David Bolland is a player who compares well to Austin Watson and he will certainly have fantasy value at the NHL level. Austin Watson will become a forward who will earn plenty of ice time in the NHL as he does not have too many glaring weaknesses. Donesh Mazloum
June 2013 – While he didn't blow away the competition, Watson showcased his underrated and improving offensive skill set in his first full pro season. He led the Admirals in goals with 20 and finished third in points with 37. Watson also scored his first NHL goal in a six-game stint with the big club. With improving offense, good size and already stellar defensive awareness, Watson is a prime candidate to fill one of the Predators open forward slots next season. While initially it may be in a defensive role don't sleep on his offensive potential. Donesh Mazloum
May 2012 – Austin is having a great season everywhere he goes and is very much forging a spot for himself in Nashville next season. After the trade from to London, he popped off 35 points in 29 games, plus 17 more in 19 playoff games. Tonight he scored three more points while driving London to victory in the first game of the Memorial Cup. Last season he won the Memorial Cup with Windsor and hopes to repeat, but wishes to play a larger role. Jason Banks
May 2012 – Watson received the OHL Playoff MVP honours after a tremendous playoff Championship run with the London Knights. He should his effectiveness in all three zones and his attention to detail on the defensive end has been very promising. He is a very good shotblocker and his versatility will be welcomed on the Predators. Watson is a prospect that will make the NHL before most of his draft peers simply because of the role he plays defensively. Brendan Ross
January, 2012 – London Knights’ recent acquisition of Austin Watson for their playoff run is an example of how valuable a player of Watson’s statue can be. Watson is a big bodied(6’3), versatile, and responsible forward that plays with intensity and plenty of tenacity. The Ann Arbor native began his OHL career for the Windsor Spitfires (2nd Round, 36th overall in OHL Draft) playing in the shadows of Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique and Greg Nemisz prior to being traded halfway through his draft year for Zack Kassian. Watson is an energetic player with good hands and prides himself on doing the little things to help his squad win games like blocking shots. In his past three major junior seasons, Watson has clipped along at over a point-per-game pace and consistently contributed to team offense. As evidence by his 2012 U20 World Junior Championship statistics, Watson should he has very good offensive skills as he led all USA players in scoring with 9 points in six games. The former Petes captain has already made his 8-game debut for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirables last season and will likely hone his skills as a professional in the 2012-13 season.
Solid defensive middle-six winger with a limited offensive upside.
Austin Watson shows off his toughness
Austin Watson – Milwaukee Admirals Highlights
Buy the latest Fantasy Prospects Report here.
- Robinson: 2020 NHL Draft Rankings - April 2020
- Prospect Ramblings: Comparing 2020 NHL Draft Rankings Published 15 Months Apart
- 2021 NHL Draft: 15 Months Out
- Prospect Ramblings: What to Expect from Graduating Prospects
- March 2020 PNHLe Report
- March NHL Draft Report: Where We Go From Here
- Interview: 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Veeti Miettinen
- Prospect Ramblings: Raw Observations from a QMJHL Season Cut Short