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Preds Select Austin Watson in First Round of 2010 NHL Draft

by Press Release / Nashville Predators
– Marks the fourth time in the last five years Nashville has taken an American with its first Entry Draft selection

Los Angeles (June 25, 2010) – With the 18th selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Nashville Predators selected Peterborough Petes (OHL) forward Austin Watson on Friday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. At 6-3, 185-pounds, Watson is an aggressive, two-way forward who saw his stock soar after a mid-season trade from Windsor to Peterborough, where he amassed 20 points (9g-11a) in 10 games.

“We’re really happy with the draft,” Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said. “We were really happy to get Austin. He’s certainly a Predator-type player, doing all the little things to help your team win. He’s got leadership qualities, and he’s been compared to (2010 Selke Trophy finalist) Ryan Kesler in Vancouver. If he’s anything close to that, we’ll have had a very good day at the draft.”

The 2010 Draft marks the fourth time in the last five years Nashville has used its first pick of the draft on an American. Watson, a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., helped the United States to a gold medal at the 2010 Under-18 World Championships, posting three points (2g-1a) in seven games.

“His strengths are his size, and his compete level,” Predators North American Amateur Scout Jason Bukala said. “He’s a very competitive player who scores, kills penalties, blocks shots. He has really no weaknesses in his game. He’s got a well-rounded skill set that will complement our group moving forward. He has the potential to put up significant points as well. This is definitely a need we wanted to fill.”

Watson started his Ontario Hockey League career playing with Predators 2009 first-round pick Ryan Ellis on a Windsor club that won the 2009 Memorial Cup as Canadian Hockey League Champions and Robertson Cup as OHL Champions. Watson posted 29 points (10g-19a) in 63 games for the Spitfires in 2008-09, then 34 points (11g-23a) in 42 games with the club in 2009-10 prior to his trade to the Petes.

The 14th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting Services and 12th-ranked skater by International Scouting Services sustained an ankle injury just three games into his Peterborough career, sidelining him for five weeks (Jan. 16-Feb. 26). He posted seven goals in his first five games upon his return to the lineup, and finished off the regular season with a six-point performance (1g-5a) on March 13, 2010 vs. Oshawa.

Watson, the oldest of nine – and soon to be 10 – kids, played six seasons in the Detroit Compuware program which also produced the likes of Eric Lindros, Pat LaFontaine, Brian Rolston, Mike Modano and David Legwand.

Rounds 2-7 of the Entry Draft continue tomorrow at 12:00 a.m. CT (broadcast on NHL Network) with the Predators holding five more selections: No. 78 (third round), No. 126 (fifth round), No. 168 (sixth round) and Nos. 194 and 198 (seventh round).
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