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Austin Watson (born January 13, 1992) is an American professional ice hockey forward who is currently playing for the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected 18th overall by the Predators in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.Contents
Austin Watson was born January 13, 1992, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he was raised by his father and mother, Mike and Mary Watson. He is the oldest of ten children, nine boys and one girl. He went to school one year at Detroit Catholic Central High School, and one year at Father Gabriel Richard High School before he was drafted into the OHL, where he attended St. Anne's High School, and after being traded to Peterborough, finishing high school there. Watson played for the high school golf team at Father Gabriel Richard, where they went to state finals.Playing career Junior
Before the OHL, Watson played all of his early hockey with the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors, whose home arena is Compuware Arena. While playing for the Ambassadors, Watson received early exposure to OHL hockey, as Compuware Arena was home to the Plymouth Whalers, prior to the team's relocation to Flint, Michigan.
At first, Watson did not show interest in the OHL, and verbally committed to the University of Maine Black Bears, planning on playing for the US U-17 team. Because of his plans to play college, although he was projected to go second overall in the OHL draft, he ended up going 36th overall. Because the U-17 delayed on giving him a spot, Watson decided to forgo his verbal commitment to Maine and play with the Windsor Spitfires.
Although it was a gamble, the Spitfires took a chance and drafted Watson. Their bet paid off, as Watson surprised people with his fast skating and smart play. Despite the fact that Watson hit a slump mid-season, he came out with 10 goals and 19 assists, for a total of 29 points. During playoffs, after a total of 20 games played, he snatched up 3 more points in the form of assists. While Watson had a remarkable rookie season, he accompanied the Spitfires to becoming the most elite in the league, the CHL Memorial Cup champions, at the same time breaking the record and becoming the first team to ever come back for an overall win from fourth place in the finals. Also, it was the first Spitfires franchise win of the Memorial Cup.
On January 11, 2010, the Spitfires traded Watson to the Peterborough Petes. The trade was to his benefit, as he received a chance at more playing time on this younger team. Watson played in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects game for Team Cherry, and played well, as he, among other things, broke up a 5-on-3 penalty kill, though he unfortunately broke his ankle blocking a second shot and missed a month with the Petes.
While playing with the Spitfires, Watson was projected to go 25th according to the International Scouting Service(ISS) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but after an advantageous trade to the Petes, he jumped in rank to 14th in April, where the NHL Central Scouting Final Ranks placed him. According to the ISS, he ranked 12th. Watson was drafted 18th overall by the Nashville Predators.
On January 9, 2012, Watson was traded to the London Knights.Professional
Watson began playing professionally during the 2012-13 AHL season, where he scored 37 points in 72 games for the Milwaukee Admirals. He also appeared in 6 games for the Predators, where he scored his first career NHL goal on April 23, 2013.
Watson became a regular in the Predators lineup during the 2015-16 NHL season, suiting up in 57 games. The following year, he skated in 77 games, scoring 17 points. He also recorded 4 goals and 9 points in 22 playoffs games, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. The Predators ultimately fell in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On July 24, 2017, the Predators re-signed Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract worth $1.1 million annually.
He received his first NHL two game suspension for boarding Colorado Avalanche forward Dominic Toninato on November 18, 2017.International play Medal record Ice hockey Representing United States IIHF World U18 Championship 2010 WJC U18
Watson was selected to play for the USA national under-18 select team for the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Despite the fact that the US did not win, he played well, tying the US record for most points in a single game.
Watson was selected to play for the US national team at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships. Though the US team ultimately won the gold medal, Watson was ejected from the championship game 5 minutes in for a boarding call.Domestic assault charge
On June 16, 2018, Watson was arrested in Franklin, Tennessee on a misdemeanour charge of domestic assault. According to police reports, an officer was flagged down after a witness reported seeing Watson "swat" his girlfriend and prevent her from leaving the couple's SUV at a gas station, Watson and his girlfriend got into an argument about her drinking and not being able to attend a wedding, the arrest warrant said. Watson admitted to pushing his girlfriend, and the officer noticed further red marks on her chest. Watson's girlfriend, admitting that Watson at times "gets handsy," pleaded with officers not to press charges, fearing damage to his NHL career.
On July 24, 2018, Watson pleaded no contest to the domestic assault charge. He was sentenced to one-year probation and ordered to complete a 26-week batterer intervention course. Violating his probation could earn Watson up to a year in jail time. As a result of his charge, Watson was suspended by the NHL from all 2018–19 preseason games and 27 regular season games. After appealing his suspension to an independent arbitrator, Watson's suspension was reduced to 18 games.Career statistics Regular season and playoffs Regular season Playoffs Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM 2008–09 Windsor Spitfires OHL 63 10 19 29 41 20 0 3 3 15 2009–10 Windsor Spitfires OHL 42 11 23 34 14 — — — — — 2009–10 Peterborough Petes OHL 10 9 11 20 8 4 2 0 2 2 2010–11 Peterborough Petes OHL 68 34 34 68 54 — — — — — 2010–11 Milwaukee Admirals AHL 5 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 2011–12 Peterborough Petes OHL 32 14 19 33 33 — — — — — 2011–12 London Knights OHL 29 11 24 35 14 19 10 7 17 10 2012–13 Milwaukee Admirals AHL 72 20 17 37 22 4 1 0 1 0 2012–13 Nashville Predators NHL 6 1 0 1 0 — — — — — 2013–14 Milwaukee Admirals AHL 76 22 24 46 24 3 0 0 0 6 2014–15 Milwaukee Admirals AHL 76 26 18 44 34 — — — — — 2015–16 Nashville Predators NHL 57 3 7 10 32 — — — — — 2016–17 Milwaukee Admirals AHL 3 1 0 1 9 — — — — — 2016–17 Nashville Predators NHL 77 5 12 17 99 22 4 5 9 28 2017–18 Nashville Predators NHL 76 14 5 19 123 13 5 3 8 12 NHL totals 216 23 24 47 254 35 9 8 17 40 International Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM 2010 United States WJC18 7 2 1 3 33 2012 United States WJC 7th 6 3 6 9 0 Junior totals 13 5 7 12 33 Awards and honors Award Year Ref Wayne Gretzky 99 Award - OHL Playoff MVP 2011–12 CHL Memorial Cup All-Star Team 2012