Austin Watson
Image: NHL

Austin Watson


Ann Arbor Michigan

Currently Playing In:






Eligible for draft:









1st round (18th overall), 2010


202 lbs.

<<<<<<< Updated upstream

2007-08: Austin Watson played for the Detroit Compuware AAA.  Had originally committed to the University of Maine program, but instead decided to play in the OHL after being chosen in the second round of the 2008 OHL Priority Selection by the Windsor Spitfires.

2008-09: In his rookie OHL season with the Windsor Spitfires, Watson scored 10 goals and added 19 assists for 29 points in 63 games.  He was a +15 for the season, and added 41 penalty minutes.  In the Spitfires’ run to the 2009 Memorial Cup championship, Watson picked up 3 assists in 20 postseason games.

2009-10: Watson played for two teams this season.  He began the season with the Windsor Spitfires, playing in 42 games for that club.  He scored 11 goals and added 23 assists for 34 points.  Watson was traded to the Peterborough Petes, and, after returning from an injury, played in 10 games for the Petes.  He scored 9 goals and added 11 assists for 20 points, giving him 20 goals and 34 assists for 54 points on the season.  In 4 playoff games for the Petes, Watson scored 2 goals.  Watson played for Team Cherry at the 2010 CHL Top Prospects Game where suffered an ankle injury while blocking a shot.

2010-11: Watson made his pro debut in limited ice time with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals at the end of the year after scoring at a point-per-game pace for Peterborough in the OHL. Watson was scoreless with no penalty minutes in eight games with the Admirals, which included three playoff contests. Watson skated in all 68 games for a disappointing Petes’ team that won just 20 games and finished last in the East Division. He scored 34 goals, including 14 power play scores, with 34 assists and had a -38 plus/minus with 54 PMs.

2011-12: Watson had an eventful season – skating for the USA in the 2012 World Junior Championship and then playing in the Memorial Cup with London after a mid-season trade from Peterborough to the Knights.  One of the few American forwards, along with teammates Bill Arnold and Emerson Etem, to stand out on a team that finished seventh in the WJC, he scored 3 goals with 6 assists in six games and finished plus-six. In 32 games with Peterborough he scored 14 goals with 19 assists and was minus-one with 33 penalty minutes. Watson skated in 29 regular season games with London and scored 11 goals (seven on the power play) and was plus-three with 24 assists and 14 penalty minutes. After playing a limited role for Windsor in his trip to the Memorial Cup in 2008-09, Watson was a big part of London’s playoff success; scoring 10 goals with 17 assists and finishing plus-10 with 10 penalty minutes in 19 OHL playoff games. Watson received the OHL’s Wayne Gretzky Trophy as the playoff MVP.  In four games at the Memorial Cup he scored 2 goals with 3 assists. London lost to Shawinigan in the championship game.

2012-13: Watson made his NHL debut with the Predators in April and was Nashville AHL affiliate Milwaukee’s second-leading scorer. He scored his first NHL goal (and only point to date) in the Predators’ final home game against Calgary, a 4-3 win. He was -2 in six NHL games and averaged 12:42 minutes of ice time. Watson led Milwaukee with 20 goals and had 17 assists in 72 games; finishing +4 with 22 penalty minutes. The Admirals were second in the Midwest Division and lost to Texas in a first round playoff series. Watson had 1 goal in four playoff games.

2013-14: Watson moved from his traditional center spot to the wing position and was one of two players to skate in all 76 games for Nashville AHL affiliate Milwaukee in his second pro season. He was the team’s third-leading scorer with 22 goals and 24 assists and was plus-four with 24 penalty minutes. Watson scored five of his 22 goals on the power play for the Admirals and had seven game-winners. In the three-game playoff series with Toronto he was minus-3 with no points and six penalty minutes.

2014-15: Watson was the second-leading scorer for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals in his third pro season and led the team with 26 goals, including eight game-winning goals. He had 18 assists and was -2 with 34 penalty minutes, skating in all 76 regular season games for the second straight season. Milwaukee missed the AHL playoffs, finishing fifth in the Midwest Division. Watson was re-signed by the Predators to a two-year contract in June 2015. 

Talent Analysis

Watson is a solid two-way centerman but with the versatility to play the wing and the shutdown role against the opposition's best forwards. He can take over games with his effort and determination. He does all the little things well in order to win hockey games: blocking shots, making the big hit, winning the important face-offs and scoring the timely goals. He has been a consistent scorer at the minor pro level but does not project into a big goal scorer at the NHL level. Watson does the type of things that a team needs to win playoff games and championships though his mobility is a challenge.


Watson is one of several forwards who will be competing for a spot with the Predators in training camp this fall. Re-signed to a two-year contract over the summer, his versatility is a plus. A former first-round pick he has been passed by some of the fast skating, younger prospects in the Nashville system but his ability to play both center and wing is a plus. Like former Predator Taylor Beck, he has paid his dues in the AHL but may be a better fit in another organization.

Professional outlook still strong for Top 20 Nashville Predators prospects

by Tony Piscotta
Kevin Fiala - Nashville Predators

Photo: 2014 1st-round pick Kevin Fiala remains the Nashville Predators’ top prospect but carrying the worst plus-minus for the Milwaukee Admirals suggests he has work to do before becoming a trustworthy NHL player (courtesy of Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)



The 2015-16 season has been an eventful one for the prospects in the Nashville Predators system. The top of the list remains largely intact but several players have either had breakout seasons or no longer seem to fit in the organization’s plans. Read more»

Nashville Predators still searching for a breakthrough player in the system

by Tony Piscotta
Juuse Saros - Nashville Predators

Photo: After spending last season as one of the Liiga’s best starters as a 19-year-old, Juuse Saros is performing well as a rookie goaltender in the AHL (courtesy of Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire)



Coming off of last year’s breakout season the Nashville Predators went into the 2015-16 with their roster largely intact. With much of the lineup from last year intact, and free agents Cody Hodgson and defenseman Barret Jackman added in the offseason, there were few opportunities for rookies to crack the Predators lineup.

Read more»

European talents dominate Top 20 Nashville Predators prospects

by Tony Piscotta
Kevin Fiala - Nashville Predators

Photo: Kevin Fiala remains Nashville’s best prospect but might need an exceptional AHL start to propel him into the NHL (courtesy of Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)



With the exception of goaltender Magnus Hellberg being traded to the New York Rangers — and some uncertainty about the progress of top defense prospect Jack Dougherty — little has changed in the top half of the Predators Fall Top 20 from the previous list last spring.

Read more»

2010 NHL Draft: Nashville Predators had unusually weak outing at the 2010 draft

by Tony Piscotta
Austin Watson - Nashville Predators

Photo: Nashville Predators prospect and 2010 first-round pick Austin Watson has established himself as a consistent player in the AHL while waiting for his NHL opportunity (courtesy of Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)



Entering the 2010 NHL Draft the Nashville Predators were coming off a successful regular season followed by yet another disappointing first round series loss in the playoffs.

Nashville finished third in the Central Division in 2009-10, reaching 100 points for the third time in five seasons, but lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago in six games in the first round. This marked the fifth straight time Nashville lost in the first round and the Predators would not win their first playoff series until the 2010-11 season.

Read more»

New era Nashville Predators loaded with award-worthy prospects

by Tony Piscotta
Pontus Aberg - Nashville Predators

Photo: Nashville Predators 2012 second-rounder Pontus Aberg showed promise in adapting to North American hockey early in the season (courtesy of Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)



The 2014-15 season saw a shift in focus in the Predators’ organization from the Smashville philosophy of the early years to a more wide open skating style. Partly due to necessity, Nashville featured bigger, hard-hitting players playing tight defense and making things difficult on opposition players during its early years.  That changed this season as new coach Peter Laviolette emphasized a north-south skating game that fit the talents of scorers like rookie Filip Forsberg and veteran Mike Ribeiro, who had a resurgence in his first year with the Predators.

Read more»