A small forward with tons of offensive potential. Yes, there's more than one in the Los Angeles Kings' system!
|Rank||Player||DOB||Nationality||Draft Year/Position||Current League||2014 Rank|
||4/25/1996||CAN||2014/209th overall (7th)||OHL||22|
At 14th in our rankings we have the small-statured Spencer Watson, who has fought adversity his entire junior career and been told by coaches he'd never make it in the NHL. Ok, I made that up, but at 5'9" and 170 pounds, the odds are against a player like Spencer Watson. As the 209th overall pick (seriously, the poor kid even missed out on being Mr. Irrelevant), his drafting was a low risk, high reward pick.
We ranked him 20th last year and were very excited about his offensive potential, particularly his even strength scoring rate. There were a lot of concerns about his true skill level given he spent most of his time on a line with 4th overall pick Sam Bennett. This year he spent most of his time on a line with
country music star Alison Krauss offensive dynamo Lawson Crouse. Watson did manage to put up points at a faster pace this year, but that is expected of an overage player. However, his even strength production reduced considerably, and he finished mostly even with the big-bodied Crouse at 1.64 P/60.
Watson finds himself at a higher place in our rankings because of the depletion of the Kings prospect pool, but it's unfair to say that he does not possess a lot of skill. His prospect profiles compare him to the likes of Tyler Johnson and Johnny Gaudreau, but he has failed to put up point totals near those players. He has terrific hands and great offensive instincts, and while he possesses a killer shot, many believe he lacks the speed that is vital to some of the smaller players' success. He does appear to be making strides in his attempt to become a better player on both sides of the ice, to his credit.
Going forward, Watson will look to hopefully make the Ontario Reign out of camp, but a return to the OHL for one more year is the likeliest scenario. Here's Kingston Frontenacs head coach Paul MacFarland on what the team expects from Watson:
We as an organization believe Spencer can have a huge year for us. He’s a very elusive forward that can create plays off the rush but he’s also excellent off the cycle, splitting defenders to create openings for himself. He’s a shoot first player that has come into camp this year in amazing shape and I expect him to take off and be very productive.
Further down the line, it is plausible that he could find success in the AHL, much like the Monarchs' MVP (and similarly small forward) Brian O'Neill did last year. Given his draft position and the odds against him, it's hard not to cheer for the kid, and he's an uncommon draft pick for the Kings who tend to favor large players. Plus, he likes Marian Gaborik, and that makes him pretty swell in my book.