Dayton Reimer The Hockey Writers
Ozzy Wiesblatt – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile
2019-20 Team: Prince Albert Raiders (#19)
Date of Birth: March 9, 2002
Place of Birth: Calgary, Alberta
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 183 lbs.
Position: Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 19th (among NA skaters)
- Bob McKenzie, TSN: 35th
- Craig Button, TSN: 29th
- Future Considerations: 42nd
- Andrew Forbes (The Hockey Writers): 56th
- Josh Bell (The Hockey Writers): 60th
- Larry Fisher (The Hockey Writers): 68th
Things could not have gone much better for Ozzy Wiesblatt in his draft year. After playing a depth role on the Prince Albert Raiders last season, scoring 39 points plus an additional 10 points in the playoffs en route to capturing the WHL Championship, he was suddenly placed in a top-line spot for 2019-20. It was a big jump in minutes and responsibility made only bigger by the fact the team had lost eight of its top-scoring players from the previous season.
Yet Wiesblatt thrived in the new role, breaking out with 70 points in 64 games and ending the season second in team scoring. He became a driving force for the Raiders and was one of the best possession players on the team. Despite losing several key veterans to the professional ranks, Wiesblatt and Washington Capitals’ prospect Alexei Protas propelled the Raiders to first place in the East Division, and third in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, before the season was cut short.
His playing style is the perfect combination of aggression, speed, and finesse. He has an explosive first step and can get up to top speed before much of his competition, forcing opposing defenders to collapse on him. However, Wiesblatt thrives in close quarters and will try to fight through traffic in order to expose weak areas in the defense. Once he finds his opening, he can deliver hard, precise passes through the legs of the defender to create perfect goal-scoring opportunities, or fire off a dangerous shot on goal. He led the Raiders with 10 power play goals and 17 power play assists this season.
Off the puck, Wiesblatt is equally effective. His frenetic pace transitions onto defense well, and he is a tenacious forechecker — his high hockey IQ helps him see the perfect spot to position himself. Although he didn’t appear much on the penalty kill (PK) in 2019-20, he has a knack for defending and will likely play a bigger role on the PK next season. He also is not afraid to throw his weight around and get in the opposition’s face. Not a typical pest, he shows no hesitation to mix it up with other players, but won’t often cost his team by taking a bad penalty. This season, he had just 36 penalty minutes.
So, why is he considered a long shot to be a first-round selection? Scouts have little to say that’s negative about the feisty forward. However, standing at only 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds, Wiesblatt currently lacks the strength needed to succeed at the highest levels and is seen as a work-in-progress, especially regarding the style of game he plays. He also was nearly invisible at the Top Prospects’ Game in Jan. 2020, scoring no points, taking zero shots, and ending the contest a minus-two, which revealed a significant gap between his skill level and the rest of the 2020 draft class.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
Had the WHL season not been cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely we would have seen Wiesblatt and the Raiders contend for the WHL championship once again, giving scouts a better look at his tenacity in the playoffs. He proved that he is a smart, consistent forward that plays a high-tempo, two-way game, and the playoffs would have been an excellent stage for him. But we have to make do with what we have, meaning he may slip under the radar of a few teams.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Ozzy Wiesblatt – NHL Draft Projection
The Top Prospects’ Game was just a single match, but it caused Wiesblatt to slip down from 14th to 19th on the Central Scoutings’ final report. However, considering that the 2020 draft promises to offer some of the best forward talent seen in years, it’s tough to hold his performance against him. Wiesblatt is likely destined for the middle of the second round, hovering around the 40th to 55th selections. To see him fall any lower than that would be very surprising.
“Wiesblatt is a good skater who plays an up-tempo game with a bit of ferocity. He is an excellent skater who excels in the offensive zone when given the freedom to be creative. His vision allows him to create for opponents and his IQ allows him to find quiet spots in the offensive zone to set up for a scoring chance. In transition, Wiesblatt is shifty and smooth through the neutral zone and carries the puck into the offensive zone before attacking the front of the net. He likes to funnel the puck below the dots and into the net-front area. His game offensively is predicated on his speed and agility as well as his willingness to fight through traffic to find soft spots in coverage.” Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects
“He has a never-quit mentality, bringing a high-energy pace to every shift and both ends of the ice. He’s not afraid to get under the skin of his opponents, sometimes reminding me of the Tkachuk brothers in his play. He’s a good skater, evident in his transition play where he also shows off his great puck handling. He has a high hockey IQ, allowing him to make great plays on a regular basis. I see him as a middle-six player that could play up and down the lineup and on any special teams. As I said, for the team that drafts him, he’ll be a fan favourite.” Josh Bell, The Hockey Writers
“He’s a dynamic game breaker who hid in plain sight for a stacked Prince Albert team last season but is poised to be a go-to offensive figure in his draft year. He’s a dynamic skilled forward who can pull the trigger and skate with the best of them, he should be a factor anywhere up or down the lineup on this team and is certainly underrated going in.” Justin Froese, Future Considerations
- Hockey IQ
- Puck Possession
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Upper-end potential
Wiesblatt doesn’t have the high potential many of his peers offer, but that doesn’t mean he won’t become a successful NHL player. He’ll likely end up as an agitating, middle-six forward who can specialize on the power play and penalty kill. He is exactly the type of player the NHL is trending towards, thanks to the success of Matthew and Brady Tkachuk. There will be plenty of teams looking to add him on draft day.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7/10, Defense – 7/10
Before joining the Raiders, Wiesblatt was a dominant player in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League, leading the league in goals in 2016-17, with 38 goals in 32 games, and won a silver medal at the WHL Prospects’ Cup in 2017-18. Once in the WHL, he won the league’s championship in 2018-19 and was awarded the Three Stars’ Award by the Raiders for receiving the most first-star selections amongst the team over the 2019-20 season. He also was selected to Team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky U18 Tournament, where he helped his team claim the silver medal.
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