The Wichita Thunder are keeping busy in late July, re-signing star forward Brayden Watts for the 2023-24 season on July 28.
Watts, the fourth-year forward out of Bakersfield, California, had his best season as a pro last year. He set new career highs with 23 goals and 40 assists for a total of 63 points in 50 games. For his performance, Watts was selected as the team’s MVP and also represented the Thunder at the 2023 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic on January 16 in Norfolk, Virginia.
Prior to turning pro, Watts played a five-year career in the Western Hockey League with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Vancouver Giants, and Prince Albert Raiders. With Vancouver in 2019, Watts, alongside defenseman Bowen Byram, helped lead the Giants all the way to the WHL Championship Series, registering 12 goals and 26 assists for 38 points in 57 regular-season games. He additionally added seven goals and three assists for 10 points in 22 playoff games.
Watts returns to the Thunder as both a star forward and a veteran presence, having been with the club since 2020. With last year’s captain Dylan MacPherson signing with Villacher SV in the ICEHL, Watts is one possible successor for the club, having served as assistant captain last year.
Watts has also kept busy over the summer, participating in the 3ICE Summer Hockey League on Team LeClair, coached by former NHLer John LeClair. The league utilizes 3-on-3 overtime rules and will run until August 12.