Following the template drawn out by Tampa Bay, drafting a player like Ozzy Wiesblatt could help the Anaheim Ducks fly high again.
The NHL is nothing if not a copy cat league. With Tampa Bay taking the title this year, there’s no doubt that the league’s footnotes will start looking at how they do business and try to emulate them. Our Anaheim Ducks will be no different.
On that note, one thing we can all agree about the Lightning is that they draft incredibly skilled forwards outside of the 1st round. The Ducks will no doubt want to achieve those same feats, and in doing so take a put on Ozzy Wiesblatt, who could just be the Anaheim Ducks answer to Tampa’s Anthony Cirelli. Failing that, the Prince of Darkness probably needs to consider taking on an apprentice at some stage.
Ozzy Wiesblatt Profile
"Born: March 9, 2002 Nation: Canada Draft Year Team: Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) Position: RW Shoots: R Height: 5’10”/ 178 cm Weight: 183 lbs/ 83 kg"
Right off the bat, Ozzy’s draft year could hardly have gone better, and looking from the outside in, it looks to have gone off the rails on a crazy train. He went from a depth role on the wing in 2018-2019, scoring 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) in 64 games, to hitting 70 points (25 goals, 45 assists) in the same number of games, this past season, centering the Prince Albert Raiders top line.
An increase in scoring that ranked him 17th in the WHL for points, and in the top 40 for goal scoring. It’s notable that Ozzy also came in sixth amongst draft-eligible WHL forwards with ~0.88 primary points per game. This list includes other notable names such as Connor Zary and Seth Jarvis.
Ozzy is perhaps one of the quicker skaters in this draft class. I’d hesitate to say that Ozzy’s top-end speed is elite, however, it is extremely fast and allows him to cover a lot of territory and generate rush attempts nearly at will. Perhaps more pertinent however is that Weisblatt is able to push the pace of the game immediately upon coming onto the ice. His acceleration off of the first step is so quick, he forces the defense to react to him rather than set themselves and dictate the tempo.
This in itself is noteworthy, as the Anaheim Ducks seem to be looking to increase their team speed. It wasn’t so long ago that Murray mentioned he wanted to get quicker, following the sweep to the San Jose Sharks. More recently, Murray acquired Sonny Milano from the Columbus Blue Jackets who also fits the get faster model.
That Wiesblatt is a quick skater with a strong work ethic should have fans somewhat reminiscent of Andrew Cogliano, though this comparison is purely based upon skating and work ethic, and not necessarily skill or production.
"“Obviously a little undersized but a great motor to him, he’s a driver of offense for their team. Every time you go watch a game he plays in, you notice him, for sure. He’s got lots of juice and generates offense, a real good motor to him which will certainly give him a chance as a smaller player.” – Brent Flahr (Philidelphia Flyers AGM), April 25, phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia."
Potentially, in part due to his low center of gravity and what would appear to be a strong set of wheels, Ozzy has very good agility and edgework, allowing him to cut and change direction on a dime. If he can’t cut around the defense, a strong stride allows him to fight through checks and get to the net face. Though given his size, like many smaller players, Wiesblatt will need to continue to get stronger if he is to play the style of game he does currently.