It was a big week for the Sharks prospects. Joachim Blichfeld, Rudolfs Balcers and Karlis Cukste represented their countries in the World Juniors, Manuel Wiederer was traded between junior teams and responded with 5 points in 2 games, and Jake Marchment has been proving to be a valuable piece for the ECHL's Allen Americans.
But it's easy to highlight high-scoring forwards. Steady defenseman don't usually get as much of the spotlight, except this week. Sharks prospect Clifford Watson (@25Cliffy) has continued a strong season at Michigan Tech, and highlighted it with his first goal of the season last Thursday. The goal helped his Huskies advance to the Great Lakes Invitational Championship Game.
The Appleton, WI native is a 6'2", 203 pound defensive defenseman in his senior season at Michigan Tech, and in his second year as the captain of the team.
Last season Watson was co-winner of the team's award for most outstanding defensive player, and was honored as a member of the WCHA All-Academic Team thanks to his 3.54 GPA.
"Watson is an extremely effective defenseman because he keeps the game so simple. He's a defensive-minded defenseman that doesn't provide a lot of offensive upside, but he is exceptional at winning pucks in the defensive zone and then making a strong first pass to help his team get the puck out of the zone while maintaining possession." - Chris Dilks, SBNCollegeHockey.com
Currently on the year, Watson has 1 goal, 7 assists and a +8 rating in 24 games played for the Huskies. But what really stands out this season are his blocked shots. With 46 blocks, Watson finds himself in the top 10 in the NCAA in that category.
"He loves the tough stuff and excels at clearing the crease, even with bigger forwards in his midst." - Hockey's Future.
The Sharks drafted Watson in the 6th round (168th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. You'll remember that as the draft where the Sharks also picked up Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, Daniel O'Regan and Joakim Ryan.
With his size, leadership skills, intelligence and toughness Watson checks off every box you look for in a defensive defenseman. And with the Sharks' luck in that draft, maybe Watson will be making an impact in San Jose in the near future.
Click here for the current Sharks Prospect Report.