Watts signs with Wichita Thunder

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders forward Brayden Watts celebrates after scoring a goal against the Calgary Hitmen last season.

Brayden Watts will begin his professional hockey career later this year.

The former Prince Albert Raiders forward signed a contract with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder on Friday morning for the 2020-21 season, which is expected to begin on Dec. 11.

The Thunder, who last made the playoffs in 2018, were in sixth place in the Mountain Division standings with a 24-30-8-0 mark when the 2019-20 campaign ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 21-year-old Watts, who is from Bakersfield, California, put together a career year with the Raiders as he was third in team scoring with 61 points (29 goals and 32 assists) in 61 games during his overage campaign.

A third round pick by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, Watts had 161 points in 315 career games for the Warriors, Vancouver Giants and the Raiders.

All three members of the Raiders overage class from last season have now found opportunities with other teams.

Defenceman and graduating captain Zack Hayes earned an AHL contract with the Henderson Silver Knights, while fellow blueliner Jeremy Masella committed to the Carleton Ravens in U Sports.