Ed. Note: From August 21st through September 16th, we will be providing previews for each player for the 2013-14 season. In no specific order, today we continue with Austin Watson…
|Austin Watson’s last 3 seasons|
2012-13 in review:
Austin Watson, Nashville’s first-round pick in 2010, got his first taste of NHL action late last season. He was called up from Milwaukee in April and appeared in six games for the Predators. He scored his first NHL goal on Apr. 23 against Calgary, which turned out to be his only point in the six games.
While in Nashville, Watson didn’t have too big of a role despite the vast number of injuries; he saw an average of just 12:42 of ice time per game. He didn’t look out of place as a rookie, but he also wasn’t much of a factor in the limited ice time he was given.
Before making his NHL debut, Watson played in 72 games with the Milwaukee Admirals. He racked up 20 goals and 37 points in what was his first full pro season.
Burning question for 2013-14: Can Watson beat the odds?
As it stands today, Watson is going to have a tough time making the Predators’ opening night lineup. With all the depth the team signed this summer, Watson may be the 16th forward on the depth chart. That doesn’t mean, however, that he won’t have an opportunity to impress the higher-ups during training camp.
Watson was easily one of the best players on the ice during development camp this past July. According to head coach Barry Trotz, Watson was the “best guy out there” during the camp’s scrimmage, where he scored a hat trick. Days before Trotz raved about Watson’s scrimmage performance, he had good things to say about the 21-year-old’s development.
“He came to his first camp and probably realized he wasn’t in great shape. The next time he was a little bit better … Now I look at him and I go ‘There’s a young man that is getting close to playing in the NHL and is going to have a really good career,’” Trotz said.
Watson, along with Taylor Beck, may be victims of a numbers game about a month from now. They are two of four forwards with two-way contracts, but it doesn’t appear likely that Filip Forsberg or Rich Clune would be sent down to Milwaukee to start the season. More than any of those four, Watson would probably need a trade or injury to occur in preseason to make the roster out of camp. He would also need to put forth a strong showing in training camp and preseason.
No matter what, Watson will remain an important piece of the Predators’ future as a potential third-line forward, whether it’s as a center or winger.