2014 NHL Draft Profile #39: Spencer Watson
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Spencer Watson is not as highly touted as his two Kingston Frontenacs teammates, Sam Bennett and Roland McKeown, but he’s also a high-end prospect in his own right. He helped the Frontenacs to a third place finish in the OHL’s Eastern Conference scoring 33 goals and 68 points in 65 games during the regular season. He also put up five points in the Frontenacs seven game series against the Peterborough Petes, which unfortunately ended in a game seven overtime loss.
Watson has had great success at the international level scoring 10 points in five games and leading Canada in scoring on route to a gold medal at last summer’s Ivan Hlinka tournament. He also put up five goals and seven points in five games at the 2013 U17 Hockey Challenge for Team Ontario. Unfortunately Watson suffered an injury during the series against Peterborough and was unable to help represent Canada at the 2014 IIHF Under 18 World Championships.
I interviewed Watson earlier in the year, and you can find that interview here.
Right Wing — shoots Left
Born Apr 25 1996 — London, ONT
Height 5.10 — Weight 175 [175 cm/79 kg]
While Spencer Watson spent most of the season playing on a line with Bennett at even strength, he wasn’t always on the first powerplay unit in Kingston. He put up a huge percentage of his points at even strength, with 28 of his 33 goals coming in this way. This ability to score at even strength is a great sign, and something that NHL teams will certainly pay attention to. Watson is a pure sniper who has a fantastic wrist shot, and outstanding release. He also has a very good one-timer. Watson has a high hockey IQ, he sees the play developing, and is able to slip into openings in the defence in order to get open for a shot. At just 5’10” Watson is a little undersized but he is willing to go to the dirty areas to score goals and has the soft hands to bury rebounds and tip-ins close to the net. Watson’s playmaking game is underrated at this point because he’s such a great sniper, but the passing skills and vision are also there to be a very dangerous player both off the rush and in the zone. He’s willing to dig in corners, but he really needs to add more weight to his frame to be better at it. He needs to be a little more patient with the puck on his stick, he always seems to take the first option, whether it be a shot on goal, or a quick pass.
Watson shows good skating. He has good jump in his first step, decent acceleration and above average top end speed. He can be dangerous off the rush and can beat defenders one on one. His speed can force defenders to back off, and when they do he is able to take advantage of the added space to unleash the wrist shot and strong release discussed earlier. Watson has very good agility and can make quick, precise cuts that allow him to elude defenders. Watson does need to improve his core strength though, as he can sometimes be knocked off the puck and lose board battles due to a lack of balance and strength on his feet.
Watson has a bit of an inconsistent defensive game at this point. There are times he seems to really support well in back pressure, and to anticipate well causing turnovers and starting the transition offence. However there are other times he has a tendency to puck watch and doesn’t make the smart play. Maintaining a consistent effort level in his own zone will be something to work on. He’s gotten better than he was as an OHL rookie in 2012-13, but there is still a bit of improvement needed.
Spencer Watson’s style is reminiscent of Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes. That isn’t to say he has Skinner’s talent, as Skinner was well ahead at the same age, but he could develop into a reliable secondary scoring option, if Watson is able to reach his potential.
Here are some highlights of Spencer Watson in action.
Come back tomorrow to check out my #40 prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft.
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