Nashville Predators: Is Austin Watson Enough of an Enforcer?

(Photo by Steven Alkok/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Alkok/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Competent tough guys are quite the rarity in today’s NHL. The Nashville Predators seemingly have one in Austin Watson, but is he enough?

The number of enforcers in the league are dwindling at a fast rate. If a skater can’t play on either side of the puck but can fight, they are likely being phased out. Which is a good thing. Having guys that play two minutes a night and spend ten minutes in the penalty box is bad for hockey. If people really cared about that stuff, we’d pay Floyd Mayweather a small fortune per game to do a 5 minute round. And don’t get me wrong, fighting has a place in the game, but staged fights do not anymore. People aren’t running superstars “like they used to”. A fighter who can’t play hockey is a waste of a roster spot. But what if you don’t have a fighter on the roster? What if Austin Watson isn’t scary enough to protect the Nashville Predators?

Dropping The Mitts

Austin Watson would have a spot on the Nashville Predators roster even if he never dropped the gloves again. He hits, forechecks well, kills penalties, and scores the occasional goal. He’s a power forward, not just an enforcer. That distinction may not seem too large but it’s a real one. Watson used to drop the mitts more but stopped when the team realized that he’s more valuable on the ice, rather than in the box.

Still though, having a guy who can fight on the roster can be handy. He can get the team or the crowd pumped up when there’s a lull in a game. Or he can stand up for a teammate if it ever came to that, though it rarely does.

Is Watson Enough?

I think so, but let’s remember his backup, Cody McLeod. Mcleod should never see the light of a Nashville Predators roster ever again. Especially when guys like Frederick Gaudreau, Colton Sissons, or Vladislav Kamenev have to sit in the press box. So I’m inclined to say yes, that Watson is enough. Sissons has been known to scrape when needed so that helps back up Watson a bit.

Fighting is declining in today’s game, and with good reason. While I firmly believe that fighting should be part of the game, I’m hesitant to ask players to risk their long-term mental health. I’ll speak more on this issue in my Five Thoughts for Friday article, so be sure to check that out.

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But once again, Austin Watson is exactly what the Nashville Predators need in terms of an enforcer. While he can fight when needed, Watson can also be a serviceable fourth liner who contributes in many ways.