Ozzy Wiesblatt, huh?
Hmm...I think I’m gonna cover my eyes, and pick a random town I know of in Western Canada where he’s from...Say, Medicine Hat?
Calgary, close enough. It’s on the same highway, anyhow. And man what a wild group of names the Wiesblatt family picked up over the years.
Ozzy Wiesblatt has been slowly gaining popularity as a 2nd round winger throughout this past season primarily through two simple skills: Skating speed, and Passing acumen.
Wiesblatt’s puck-hounding skills and ability to find players in open space or even while defended who can put a good shot on net is absolutely next-level stuff and served Prince Albert well in their 2018 run for the memorial cup, and in 2019 it’s only gotten better as he’s taken up the reigns as one of the three leaders in points and goals for the Green and Black. The way he looks off defenders in the notoriously stingy WHL, combined with a shocking level of skating speed, he’s able to force defenses to react to him rather than him react to how the defense, which has served the Raiders well. The scariest part of that speed is how he uses it; he absolutely can blow by defenders if he so chooses, but his favorite thing to do is quickly adjust speed and tempo in his skating to keep them guessing what he’s doing and where he’s going, and then open up further space for his fellow linemates to go occupy. And that’s before you see his pretty strong shot that he can get the best use of around the hashmarks. When he’s on his horse, he’s next to unstoppable.
Of course, the part that makes him such a delight to watch for some scouts is that Wiesblatt’s not just an offensive dynamo; his physicality and willingness to take a hit is what makes him so dangerous, and his ability to get back on defense and play the body has made him one of those players who’s a nightmare to play against, and can get under the opponent’s skin. Not necessarily as an intentional, Marchand-type pest, but he can frustrate teams to the point of getting players entirely off their game to go after him. Which he’ll happily take and encourage. He’ll also happily toss a fist or a shove into a defender to stir some trouble up if the opportunity presents itself.
So, why would he be a 2nd rounder instead of a first? Part of it is his weight: he’s slight for a player of his caliber, and there’s real concern that his speedy, self-sacrificial style of physical defense and offense could get him rather grievously harmed at the NHL level, so drafting him comes with a clear “put some cheeseburgers into him“ goal in regards to weight.
He also didn’t do much of anything at the Top Prospects game, which you might correctly say “why would that matter? Isn’t the Memorial Cup and playoff time more useful in learning who a player is?” And you would be right. But unfortunately, that’s not happening this year. So we’re stuck with the information we have available to us, and scouts didn’t care for it. It sucks, but what can you do.
Further, in spite of his decent puck-getting skills, he was rarely called upon by an already defensively stalwart Prince Albert to perform penalty killing duties, which would probably have boosted his rating quite a bit. It’s clear from his skillset that he can do it, but it’s a matter of getting him used to it, and also at the next level, that would be important to his development as a more complete player.
Wiesblatt seemingly projects as a middle-six forward along the lines of one of the Tkachuk siblings throughout the internet and scouting circles, and with such a frustrating and fun style of hockey, it’s possible he could slip through the cracks of quite a few scouts, but would quickly become a fan-favorite if given the right development. That said, he’s very unlikely to be where Boston picks.
But, y’never know...
- Ranked 19th among NA skaters by NHL Central Scouting
- Ranked 44th by EliteProspects.com
- Ranked 42nd by FutureConsiderations.com
- Ranked 35th by Bob McKenzie for TSN
Ozzy Wiesblatt Statistics
|2017-18||Prince Albert Raiders||WHL||1||1||0||1||0|
|2018-19||Prince Albert Raiders||WHL||64||15||24||39||20|
|2019-20||Prince Albert Raiders||WHL||64||25||45||70||36|