Who is Ozzy Wiesblatt?
The Canadian version of the Prince of Darkness appropriately plays for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. Off the ice, Wiesblatt brings a unique story with him to this year’s draft— he’s one of 5 kids, including four boys who all play high level hockey, and are being raised by a deaf single mother.
On the ice, the Raider’s right wing helped take his team to the WHL championships last season, and finished this season’s 64 games with an impressive 25 goals and 45 assists. He also has a silver medal in the Hlinka Gretzy Cup under his belt from this season’s tournament as well.
Where is Wiesblatt Ranked?
NHL Central Scouting (North Americans): 19th
Future Considerations: 42nd
Larry Fisher: 62nd
Steve Kournianos: 46th
Elite Prospects: 44th
Craig Button: 30th
What Have the Experts Said About Wiesblatt?
On the ice you could say Ozzy Wiesblatt is a bit of a crazy train.
He’s described as being the “perfect combination of aggression, speed, and finesse”. Wiesblatt “operates in attack mode no matter the situation... plays at a frenetic pace and is a gifted player with the puck” according to the Draft Analyst. Scouting reports on Wiesblatt sing the praises of his slick footwork— he has an “explosive first step and reacts quickly to even the shortest of sequences regarding changes in puck direction” (Kournianos) — his impressive shot — “he unleashes the fury with either his slapper or wrister... his release is among the best of this draft’s CHL contingent” (Kournianos) — and his dogged determination on the forecheck and beyond — “he hounds the puck before dominating it with shiftiness and deft stickhanding... a tenacious forechecker and will deliver big hits” (Kournianos) “shows no hesitation to mix it up with other players, but won’t often cost his team by taking a bad penalty” (Reimer).
Other comments on his explosive style:
“He puts a lot of effort into every shift and is willing to play physical, both open ice and along the boards.... an inside player and can beat defenders 1-on-1 in a variety of ways... positions himself properly in the defensive zone after busting it on the backcheck”-Kournianos
“High energy player who plays a quick, determined brand of hockey... an excellent skater who excels in the offensive zone when given the freedom to be creative... a dual threat RW who plays an up-tempo game with a bit of ferocity”-Ferrari, Dobber Prospects
“Terrific hands, nice edging, and a strong offensive zone cycle... all around skill and all the attributes that point to advancement to the higher levels of play... quick stride and drives play into the attacking zone” - Bill Placzek, Draftsite
“Thrives in close quarters... 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” -Reimer
Some visual evidence; as Placzek mentioned, his work in the offensive zone in a cycle is particularly fun to watch—
High praises of an excellent player for sure, so why the second round rankings? First, there’s the usual concern of his size. At 5’10” 180lbs, Wiesblatt isn’t among the smallest player in this draft class, but he’s still small by typical NHL standards and that’s always a consideration and a notch down a few spots for any ‘undersized’ prospect. The second strike against Wiesblatt on the scouting reports is his Prospects Game performance. Namely, the lack thereof. He finished the game with no points and not a single shot on net, leading many scouts to believe it “revealed a significant gap between his skill level and the rest of the 2020 draft class” (Reimer).
Prospect Game performance can be a huge make or break for a ranking, but its not the end all be all of skill level. Nerves, a poor style match-up with linemates, or even a cold could turn a top level talent into a sad excuse for a showing at a prospects game. It’s definitely worth taking into consideration and will likely be the major reason he falls out of the first round of this year’s draft, but it definitely should not be a reason for any team to write him off of their list completely. Wiesblatt has the skill level necessary to become an NHL threat, and his playing style would benefit any team’s future lineup. An aggressive all-around playmaker type wing could compliment any of the young center core coming up through the Devils organization, and is definitely worth considering if he is around for the Devils to take this year. That being said, as I’ve mentioned before, we don’t currently have a pick in the second round, I don’t know how much I’d want to take the risk to reach on him as a late first rounder, and I highly doubt he’ll fall to the fourth round or later, so don’t get too attached to this kid just yet.
Check out some of the highlight clips of Wiesblatt above and let’s hear if you think he’ll live up to the hype!