The Bruins make no secret of their passion for big wingers with size and skill, so when you're charting the possibilities of Boston picks in the 2010 draft, no list would be complete without the Peterborough Petes' Austin Watson.
The 6-3, 180-pound forward is a Michigander who was traded from the Windsor Spitfires earlier this season for Buffalo Sabres' 2009 first-rounder Zack Kassian just before breaking his ankle in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects Game in Windsor. The tough-luck injury, sustained while Watson was blocking a shot in an exhibition game in early January, was originally thought to keep him off the ice much longer than this, but Watson is back after five weeks, and the Petes have to be thrilled after losing the high-flying Ryan Spooner to a broken collarbone.
Watson is a decent skater with good hands and offensive ability, but has shown himself to be a well-rounded player in the OHL who can play effectively on special teams. A solid citizen, he is coachable and puts the team first. He got a rousing ovation from the Windsor faithful when he was introduced at the top prospects game, even though he was already a member of the rival Petes. Fans are usually a pretty good indicator of a player's worth; when someone ceases to wear the colors and hooks on with someone else, it's saying something when they embrace the former player like the Spitfires fans did for Watson.
He may not quite have the high-end, elite potential of other wingers in this draft, but he's exactly the kind of player you could see the B's snap up with Toronto's second-round selection, and possibly even Boston's first-round pick depending on where that one ends up.
He's one of those guys who's not as skilled as some, not as physical or tough as others, but just seems to bring "it" and has the look of someone who will end up being a much better pro than currently projected. And, his eight goals and 14 points in just 9 games with the Petes seem to indicate that Watson has the kind of scoring upside that's worth taking a chance on.
Oh, and the intensity and high compete levels don't hurt Watson's cause one bit, either.