Building the Herd – Nicky WattPosted: 15/01/2013
#49 Nicky Watt
Born: Irvine, Scotland
Announced as signed: Bison website 14th January
With the loss of Andy Melachrino to a broken collar bone and Doug Sheppard’s insatiable desire to tinker with the roster dependent of circumstances, the Bison moved to add another piece to the roster in their drive for silverware by signing former Bison junior Nicky Watt, recently released at his own request from the Swindon Wildcats.
26 year old Watt played his junior hockey in Basingstoke making his first appearance for the senior side in the 2002/03 BNL season alongside playing for the Bison under 19 side, scoring 15 points in 9 games.
The next season the Bison moved from the BNL to the Elite league which saw Watt join the Bison roster in the extra forward role, dressing for 47 games whilst accruing 24 penalty minutes and no points. That season was also Watt’s last at under 19 level, tallying 10 points in 6 games.
Watt’s first full season out of junior hockey in 2004/05 saw him join Slough Jets for what would be a 2 and a bit season stint with the Jets. In 80 games from 2004-2006 tallied 42 points (23 goals + 19 assists) whilst clocking up 241 penalty minutes.
7 games into his 2006/07 with the Jets with just the 1 assist to his name, Watt left Slough and headed south to Ryde to join the Isle of Wight Raiders. Nicky stayed on the island till the end of the 2007/08 where he scored 62 points (20 goals + 42 assists) in 66 games before returning to the mainland for his 1st stint with Swindon in 2008/09.
Alongside his 2 game guest appearance in the EIHL with the Bison where he scored 1 goal, Watt upped his points total to 30 points in 47 games that season with Swindon before the start of most productive period of his career to date.
Alongside Michal Pinc and Jaroslav Cesky at Bracknell, Watt formed part of the Bees top line that terrified defences for 2 solid seasons. Despite the Bees ultimately not finishing in the playoff places, in 105 games for the Bees Nicky scored 122 points including 38 assists in both seasons.
For 2011/12, Ryan Aldridge lured the entire line down the road to The Link Centre where his points production did drop a touch but still hit 49 points in 50 games (so yeah, a really big drop he says sarcastically) and made the playoffs but the Wildcats were dealt with by the Manchester Phoenix.
This season started for Watt without Pinc and Cesky in Swindon where he currently has 29 points in 28 games before joining the Bison this week.
You all have 30 seconds to get all of you faux surprise about this signing and jokes about the Bison’s budget out of the way now. Ready? Go.
Right, moving on.
Never one to complain about having something to write, Nicky Watt is a very interesting signing. I don’t think it’s exactly much of a secret, he divides opinions at times. It is something of a side effect of his style of play. At times during games I have criticised the actions and antics of both Watt brothers but there is a universal truth about them both; Nicky and his brother Ryan are very talented hockey players. Adding a forward of Nicky Watt’s calibre to the Bison at this point in the season is a very good thing.
It’s obviously going to be interesting as to how he gets used because I think there’s a couple of ways to use him.
The obvious option is he joins the 2nd line with Doug Sheppard and Jaroslav Cesky. Considering his points scoring record with Cesky alongside Pinc and given how well Cesky and Sheppard it seems like a natural fit. Watt is a bit more of a classic “agitator” than Joe Greener so can do a job of clearing the way for Sheppard and Cesky as well as putting points on the board. There is for my money, another option that might be worth trying.
Given the way they played on Saturday versus Slough, the Cesky-Sheppard-Greener combination works so well so perhaps playing Watt alongside Joe Rand and James Smith as a high impact 3rd line could be the way to go. That’s a line that can do the grinding work but also put up points. Whilst I believe that Watt will likely start alongside Cesky, whatever happens it’s another solid passer and skater to add to both the penalty kill and powerplay units who can play top 6 minutes but isn’t afraid to do the dirty work and will stand up for his teammates. To be able to add a player with this much versatility to the line up in mid January is never anything to sniff at. I appreciate that some may be a bit displeased that Cameron Wynn is now back at 10th forward rotating in but remember, it’s about the long game and he’ll still get ice time. (Given his partnership with Smith at the weekend, I think that’s a good duo to use on occasional penalty kills and 3rd line shifts anyway.)
The trophy race is now becoming deadly serious and we’ve managed to add another top British forward at EPL level. This can only bode well you’d hope.
Welcome back Nicky. You know what to do.