2020 Draft Profile: Ozzy Wiesblatt Could Have the Anaheim Ducks Flying High Again

Ozzy Wiesblatt #19 of the Prince Albert Raiders (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
Ozzy Wiesblatt #19 of the Prince Albert Raiders (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images) /
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Anaheim Ducks
Ozzy Wiesblatt #9 of Team Red (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /


What Ducks analytics fans will love is that Ozzy appears to be highly skilled at entering the offensive zone in control of the puck. Given that this season’s Anaheim Ducks dumped the puck in at near historically high volumes (over 55% on the power play alone), drafting players who can mitigate current roster flaws and push the team towards a modern style seems to be incredibly important.

Obviously, Wiesblatt won’t be expected to make an impact for another three years or so, and by then the team’s needs will be very different. However, the league has been trending towards puck possession for some time now, which is an aspect of the game that seems unlikely to change.

The Anaheim Ducks may seemingly be starting their run late, though it’s worth noting that the Ducks current roster holds a number of players who are similarly excellent in transition. From the blue line, Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm are excellent in this area.

If the Ducks select either Jamie Drysdale or Jake Sanderson with their 6th overall selection, they too are strong in transition. Upfront, both Troy Terry and Sonny Milano are very strong transition skaters. Taken together, we can see a small trend towards the younger players excelling in this aspect of the game, which may give a clue to Bob Murray‘s team-building plans moving forward.

Where the current Ducks play style falls flat, is what happens after this phase, which may be where Ozzy has the upper hand on current prospects and players. At least to the point where he can contribute to a future Ducks team playing style. Specifically, Ozzy’s production, almost in its entirety, comes directly from his transition game.

Wiesblatt is an intelligent player who uses the tools at his disposal well. Alternating his entry speed and angles, Wiesblatt is able to speed up or slow down the play giving his teammates an opportunity to get open. These variances in his game force the defense into a guessing game, dragging them out of their rhythm and allowing him and his regular linemate, Aliaksei Protas, to take advantage of momentary lapses in coverage to create precision-passing cycle plays or two-man weaves. Assuming, of course, that Ozzy doesn’t simply blow past them one-on-one, which he is perfectly capable of doing.

In combination with his superior skating ability, Ozzy is strong on the puck allowing him to maintain possession and fight through checks as he drives to the net. Almost equally adept at controlling the puck in the cycle as he is threading passes through tight areas to connect on the tape, Wiesblatt offers a playmakers skill set to be utilized with the man advantage. A skill set the Raiders used to advantage, on the way to a personal high of 10-goals and 17-assists on the power play this past season.

It’s worth noting here that according to Mitch Browns CHL tracking data Ozzy rates extremely well in shot assists (per 60 minutes of play) and more importantly, expected primary assists (per 60 minutes of play). The Raiders – according to Will Scouch – take only 28% of their shots from low danger opportunities, which is by far the lowest of those he mentions.

As a comparable, one of the draft favorites, Alexander Holtz’s team shoots 71% of their shots from low danger areas while he’s on the ice. All of this suggests that the Raiders are able to plan around Wiesblatt’s skillset to create repeatable high-danger attempts on a night-to-night basis.

However, dismissing Ozzy as purely a playmaker is a slight to the player, as one of his greatest weapons is a great release on his shot. The Ducks haven’t had a strong one-timer threat in many a year, however, Wiesblatt may have the tools to develop into that player.

Already having a strong slap shot, Ozzy is freely able to switch between his accurate wrist- or snap-shot, and occasional backhand. Not necessarily a renowned goal scorer, the underlying tools are in place to become an all-around threat in the offensive zone.

Though it is worth noting that he took just 177 shots this season for a 14.12% conversion rate, and that, like most young players, he could stand to increase his overall physical strength, which would add penetration to his shot as he moves into the pro ranks.