Austin Watson was acquired by the Ottawa Senators right before the start of the 2020-21 season. The cost was a fourth-round pick sent to Nashville. He had three years left on his contract at an affordable $1.5 million AAV.
In the three years that Watson has been an Ottawa Senator, he’s put up 10, 16, and 10 points, respectively. He has never been an offensively talented player, although he was originally an 18th-overall pick, back in 2010.
Through 475 games in his NHL career, Austin Watson has 57 goals and 113 points. In addition to that he has 595 penalty minutes.
The question remains:
Should the Ottawa Senators offer Watson an extension this summer?
The role Watson provides for the Senators is not worthless in nature, but it is also highly replaceable. The only thing I can think of that he does fairly well is penalty killing. He’s been a staple on the unit all year and the team has a PK percentage of 82.7 to show for it. They rank tied for sixth in the NHL in that category.
But beyond penalty killing, he really doesn’t offer much to the table. He’s a good guy in the room, granted, but who isn’t?
Seriously, the Sens have a locker room filled with great guys and if Watson was less of a pylon at 5-on-5 I would love for him to be back next year. To me, he simply does not skate nearly well enough to earn himself a regular spot on an NHL roster. The Sens have a much younger player who does exactly what Watson does and skates far better, his name is Parker Kelly.
I do not believe the Senators should offer Watson a full-time spot in the bottom six next year but depending on the free-agent market I could entertain the possibility of him signing a cheap two-way contract where he’d spend most of the season in a leadership role in Belleville. That entirely depends on how he is viewed by other teams around the NHL and whether he even wants to continue playing hockey.
This year, he has eight goals and 10 total points in 68 games, a six-point drop from where he was last year through 68 games.
The Ottawa Senators’ bottom-six outlook for next year
The following spots in the bottom six are filled unless something unexpected happens (long-term injury, trade etc.
That leaves one spot open on the fourth line. It could be filled by any number of players including Kelly, Watson, Derick Brassard, Angus Crookshank, Egor Sokolov, or a free agent signing. I expect the Senators to re-sign Brassard in the offseason but it will likely be with the understanding that he might be the 13th forward most nights.
I do think the Ottawa Senators will take an extended look at Kelly because he works hard and plays hard. Crookshank and Sokolov are long shots but could break into the lineup with a strong training camp relying on their individually strong skillsets.
Austin Watson has had a decent stint in Ottawa and has never done anything that made me think the trade wasn’t worth it or he wasn’t worth his contract. However, father time seems to have caught up with him and he just doesn’t have the speed to keep up with the modern NHL game.