With 40 goals and 86 points this season, he has no trouble proving that he is a natural goal-scorer. Still just 19, Los Angeles Kings prospect Spencer Watson already has plenty to boast about despite his diminutive 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame.
An excellent skater with a shot that’s both hard and accurate, it is hard to believe that Watson wasn’t taken until the seventh round in 2014. Still, the native of London, Ont., is wrapping up his junior career — with the OHL‘s Kingston Frontenacs — in a way which will leave many remembering his name.
I recently spoke with Frontenacs head coach Paul McFarland about Watson and it was evident just how thrilled the bench boss was with his star.
“[Watson] does a great job getting open. He’s all over the offensive zone,” McFarland said. “Maybe his most impressive areas are his play with the puck, creating turnovers and using his skating ability and stick to jump on loose pucks.
“He just has that ability to streak through defenders. He’s always moving at full speed. He has great hands and very elusive on the rush and that’s just him in the cycle.”
While he is known as a natural goal-scorer, Spencer Watson has been able to address other facets of his game to where he can be relied upon in a number of situations.
“We’ve seen him develop to now where he’s blocking shots, making big plays with the lead,” continued McFarland. “That will hopefully separate him from all of the scorers. There are a lot of guy who want to score goals but he’s trying to make himself into a complete player.
“To play in the NHL today, you’ve got to play a complete game. Coaches need to trust the players that they’re putting on the ice in every situation. Spencer continues to work harder and harder away from the puck. I always preach to our guys that the harder they work without the puck, the more is going to happen. For him to play at the next level, that is what he’s going to have to do, to be a complete guy that can be trusted in his own end and plays with instruction.”
As for Kings Director of Player Development Nelson Emerson, as impressed as he was with Watson’s season thus far, he is especially eager to see how he fares in the fast-approaching postseason.
“Spencer has really been on a tear of late,” Emerson noted. “He has had a real good season thus far. We look forward to watching him have a nice playoff.”
A setback in Watson’s career came this past December when he was cut from Team Canada’s junior roster. Still, according to McFarland, the disappointing news didn’t slow the 19-year-old. Instead, he only came more determined than ever.
“Spencer was invited to camp and it wasn’t easy for him not to make [Team Canada],” said McFarland. “But he definitely came back motivated and he works hard every day to get better. It’s an everyday thing with him.”
Just looking at his size makes it easy to figure that Spencer Watson will not fit in with the Los Angeles Kings system. But that isn’t altogether fair. After all, while the soon-to-be 20-year-old could add some bulk to his game, what he already boasts suggests that he should have been drafted a lot higher than he was. Nonetheless, Watson has proven that he is motivated to bring his best regardless of the situation.
While the Frontenacs are looking forward to the playoffs, one cannot wonder how Spencer Watson will fare at the next level.
Only time will tell.