The Leafs organization appear to be trying to build serious depth in the minor league ranks. After establishing a multi-year affiliation with the Orlando Solar Bears last week and signing two players to AHL contracts over the weekend, another move was made today. The latest addition to the Toronto Marlies? Patrick Watling.
Who Is He?
Watling is a 20 year old centre from Sault St. Marie, Ontario. Drafted in the 10th round of the 2009 OHL Priorty Draft, Watling played out the first two seasons (plus three games) with the Guelph Storm. He put up 23 points in 67 games in his first year and 25 in 53 in his second season, before making his way to his home town and lacing up the skates for the Greyhounds.
In that final year, Watling had his best year of his career, putting up 18 goals and 36 assists for 54 points in 65 games. In the OHL playoffs, he added a goal and seven assists in nine games. On top of this, Watling won the Roger Nielson Memorial Award for being the OHL’s top post-secondary student. Despite the workload that playing hockey at that level provides, he managed an A average in his pursuit of an Engineering degree at the University of Guelph.
His advanced numbers (yes, thanks to ExtraSkater, we have some limited ones!) looked pretty solid too. He was second on the Greyhounds in Relative Goals For Percentage at 63.3%, and put up 2.6 points per 60 minutes at even strength, good for fifth on the team,
Watling’s teammates in Guelph included Marlies players and Leafs prospects Matt Finn and Garret Sparks. In a conversation with Sparks today, he noted that Watling was a “Great guy to have around in the room. He works hard for everything he’s gotten. Blocks shots, draws penalties, chips in a goal here and there. He’s a fast, good forechecker. He won’t wow you with skill but you’ll notice his heart.”
In the Soo, his General Manager was new Leafs assistant Kyle Dubas. With this signing and the signing of Brett Findlay earlier in the week, you have to imagine that Dubas’ job description has him taking on Dave Poulin’s responsibilities as Marlies General Manager. For now, he seems to be sticking to what he knows, though with the assets that the team has and the ability to move guys who don’t quite make it down to Orlando, making it a no-risk proposition.