The 2020 NHL Draft will be October 6 & 7, conducted remotely. The Calgary Flames have a first round selection and will pick 19th overall. In advance of the draft, we’ll be looking at some contenders to be selected at 19th.
Next up? A swanky offensive project from the WHL, Prince Albert Raiders winger Ozzy Wiesblatt.
A product of Calgary, Ozzy Wiesblatt has an amazing life story already (at 18). The Athletic’s Scott Cruickshank chronicled it last year, but here’s the short summary: he’s the middle child of five kids (four boys, one girl) raised by a deaf single mom. Older brother Orca plays for the Hitmen, younger brother Oasiz is a defensive prospect for the Medicine Hat Tigers. Ozzy is regarded, right now, as the best player of the brood.
Wiesblatt has a lot of desirable qualities, but the best way to describe him is this: what if somebody who was lightning fast also had good hands? He’s not a two-way marvel, though he’s capable defensively, but he’s routinely dynamite in the neutral and offensive zones in using his speed, hockey sense and puck-handling ability to give the other team nightmares.
Here’s Dobber Prospects’ assessment via Tony Ferrari:
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. While he isn’t a typical pest, he doesn’t shy away from mixing it up with his opponents after the whistle when the situation arises. Wiesblatt is a smart, skilled and speed-driven winger who can help on both the power play and the penalty kill. He may not project to be a top-line forward but his play suits a middle-six scoring role that contributes to both special teams.
Wiesblatt has already played in two full WHL seasons and has a championship (and a trip to the Memorial Cup) under his belt. He and fellow 2020 prospect Kaiden Guhle were regularly among the best players on the Raiders this season, including Wiesblatt putting up several multi-point games.
Wiesblatt had 25 goals and 70 points this past season, good for 17th in the WHL overall. (He was tied with Edmonton’s Jake Neighbours and Portland’s Jaydon Dureau, but had more goals than they did.)
Among first-time 2020 draft eligible players, Wiesblatt is behind only Portland’s Seth Jarvis, Kamloops’ Connor Zary and Saskatoon’s Tristen Robins in scoring. Like Zary, he was fairly reliant on special teams for offensive production: Zary had 44 even strength points, Wiesblatt 43, and Jarvis, Robins and Neighbours all had more.
Availability and fit
Wiesblatt is a Calgary kid and a right shot winger who plays an up-tempo, finesse game, but doesn’t shy away from physicality. He fits the Flames’ needs like a damn glove. (At 5’10” and 185 pounds, he wouldn’t even be the Flames’ smallest prospect.) There might be players available with more potential upside, but Wiesblatt seems like he’d be a good stylistic and cultural fit.
He would probably be available at 19th overall. FC Hockey has him 40th, Craig Button has him 29th, Bob McKenzie has him 40th, and McKeen’s has him 29th. Based on the scouting consensus, he might be perceived as being taken a bit early, but he’d be right in that glut of similarly-talented players between 18th and 50th overall. (It’s that kind of draft.)