Top 25 Sharks Under 25: No. 10 Ozzy Wiesblatt flies under the radar
The headliner of the Sharks’ 2020 draft class will make the jump to the professional level this upcoming season.
Ozzy Wiesblatt had a memorable introduction into the San Jose Sharks organization when he was selected with the 31st pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. When it came time to announce the pick, Sharks director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr. announced the Sharks’ pick in American Sign Language, a nod to Wiesblatt’s parents, who are both deaf.
The gesture was sweet, but Wiesblatt was hardly on fans’ radar. He may not have the hype that prospects such as William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau have, but all signs point to Wiesblatt being a solid contributor at the NHL level, and a key cog in the Sharks’ future.
A second-round pick by the Prince Albert Raiders in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, Wiesblatt made his Raiders debut that season after primarily playing with the U18 AAA Calgary Buffaloes, where he was teammates with St. Louis Blues prospect Jake Neighbours. Wiesblatt became a permanent fixture in the Raiders’ line-up the next season, scoring 15 goals and 24 assists. However, it wasn’t until the 2019-20 campaign when the forward really began to turn heads.
“If you’re looking for dynamic, this is the place to start,” was how Mitchell Brown of Elite Prospects led his first game report on Wiesblatt. In that first game, Wiesblatt and the Raiders were facing off against the Tri-City Americans at the beginning of the WHL season. Brown particularly noted of Wiesblatt’s playmaking against Tri-City: “Several times, Wiesblatt managed to find a seam to the middle, often by skating straight through two opposition sticks.”
Brown had even higher praise for Wiesblatt against the Calgary Hitmen in February 2020, describing him as “a human cheat code in transition.” That season, Wiesblatt finished second in scoring on the Raiders with 70 points (25 goals, 45 assists).
After getting drafted by the Sharks, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the start of the WHL season, delaying play until March 2021. So despite only being 18 years old, he began the 2020-21 season with the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL. Wiesblatt played six games with the Barracuda, scoring two goals and one assist before being re-assigned to Prince Albert when the WHL’s season was able to resume.
Wiesblatt tallied 28 points (7 goals, 21 assists) in the truncated 2020-21 season, returning to the Barracuda after the Raiders’ season ended. In the 2021-22 campaign with Prince Albert, Wiesblatt’s season was ended in mid-March after 43 games due to a shoulder injury, but still notched 10 goals and 31 assists in what will likely be his final WHL season.
What We Like
Wiesblatt is dangerous in the transition game. He combines his crafty skating ability with great playmaking on the rush and gets into the offensive zone with ease. Wiesblatt’s playmaking, in particular, is impressive. Scott Wheeler of The Athletic ranked him 52nd in his list of Top 100 2020 NHL Draft prospects, noting that “Wiesblatt is strong for his size, playing through contact to maintain control and keep plays alive when defenders are leaning on him.”
Areas of Improvement
Surprisingly, scouts have had very few negative things to say about Wiesblatt. One of the issues for him currently is his offensive ability when he’s in the offensive zone. Wiesblatt can get into the offensive zone with ease, but there’s something to be desired when he’s actually in the zone with a shot that’s not really all that special. He needs to be more aggressive with the puck.
At 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds, Wiesblatt can also stand to gain from putting on muscle if his passing and feisty game is to succeed at the NHL level.
Ozzy Wiesblatt with a great feed and Scott Reedy goes upstairs for his fifth goal. Nicolas Meloche also gets an assist. #sjbarracuda pic.twitter.com/vMzs92NBMh— Brian Truong (@_BrianTruong) May 8, 2021
Here’s an example of Wiesblatt’s transition game and playmaking at the professional level, weaving through the neutral zone up ice before delivering a great pass to Scott Reedy, who buries it past Oscar Dansk.