Lightning To Sign Former First-Rounder

There are still a dozen players on PTOs as we head into the final day before the season begins, and at least one of those has now earned himself a contract. 

According to hockey insider Elliotte Friedman, former first-rounder Austin Watson will be signing a one-year NHL deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The 31-year-old forward was the #18 pick overall in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators and spent six seasons there in a bottom-six role. He's spent the last three years with the Ottawa Senators in a similar enforcer role. 

The tough-nosed Watson racked up 254 penalty minutes in those three seasons in Ottawa, including a career-high-tying 123 of them last year. He's also used his body to punish opponents, with 478 hits over his time with the Senators. 

He might not be a full-time regular fixture in head coach Jon Cooper's lineup, according to Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times, but "he has been a seamless fit in a locker room that could use an added dose of veteran leadership given the players lost in the offseason (including Pat Maroon)."

His teammates were thrilled to hear the news this morning. 

Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports