Leading up to the 2010 draft, Flordiapanthers.com will be highlighting some of the top prospects to look out for. At number 3, the Panthers have a lot of players to choose from. What direction and who will they pick?
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THE SHINNY: Playing for the Windsor Spitfires for most of his OHL career, winger Austin Watson has a Robertson Cup (OHL Champs) and a Memorial Cup (CHL champs) to his belt.
The Ann Arbor, MI native racked up 54 points in 52 games, including 20 points in 10 games after a midseason trade from Windsor sent him to Peterborough this season. Watson helped the US win a gold at the World Under-18s in Belarus in 2010.
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards: “Austin is a very good penalty killer. He plays a high-energy two-way game. He's aggressive on the forecheck and he will finish his checks. He has good hands and can shoot the puck hard. He is an excellent competitor and is a good shot blocker. I like his energy and willingness to play a role and be good at that role.”
Watson On Watson: "I'm a big body and like to get down low and be physical and create space for other guys and get to the front of the net and put pucks in the net. But also I do a lot of little things right. I kill penalties. I take pride in that. I take pride in blocking shots and doing little things, dumping the puck and getting things going. I try to be a leader all the time when I'm out there and that's kind of the things I think that set me apart."
NHL Team: Detroit Red Wings NHL Player: Johan Franzen Shootout Move: "Forehand Fake, Backhand High Blocker" TV Show: Lost Music Group: Sugarland Book: The Count Of Monte Cristo Website: facebook.com Activity Away From The Rink: Golf
That was the issue facing Austin Watson earlier this season -- stay with the Windsor Spitfires, defending Ontario Hockey League and Memorial Cup champion -- and among the favorites to repeat as both -- or accept a trade to the Peterborough Petes that would allow him to move from complementary part to starring role.
Hawks' Johansen Catching Eye Of NHL Scouts (12.16.09) When a list of the Western Hockey League's top 25 prospects for the 2010 NHL draft was released this fall, four Portland Winterhawks players appeared in the top 13.
The most surprising, at the No. 9 slot, was 17-year-old Ryan Johansen.
A center in his first season in the WHL, Johansen was so lightly regarded in 2007 that he remained available until well after the halfway point of that year's Bantam draft. This season, he has quickly evolved into one of the team's top playmakers and has become one of the most talked-about prospects in the league.