The biggest surprise of the 2020 NHL Draft wasn’t the Calgary Flames trading back in the first round not once, but twice, or the New Jersey Devils taking Shakir Mukhamadullin in the first 20 picks.
No, it was San Jose Sharks director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr., and this gesture, specifically for Ozzy Wiesblatt’s mother, Kim White:
Bob McKenzie: "I don't know if you know what he did there, Doug Wilson Jr.. He signed. Because Ozzy Wiesblatt's mother is deaf…It's really touching to connect with the family like that. They all sign." pic.twitter.com/8edvwNRFWx
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 7, 2020
“My mom will never forget that,” Wiesblatt said in a Zoom call after the San Jose Sharks selected him with the last pick of the 2020 NHL Draft’s first round. “I didn’t really expect it. That’s one of the more cooler things I’ve ever seen.”
A veteran of eight drafts as a member of the Sharks staff, Wilson Jr. has seen first-hand what it means to a teenager to get his name called on the draft podium. Of course, this is no normal NHL Draft — Wiesblatt can’t walk to the podium this year — but Wilson Jr. had his own reasons to make the moment just a little more special.
“This is a huge moment for 17 and 18-year-olds. In my life, my mom is a huge factor. If I was in this moment, I would want to be able share it with my parents too,” Wilson Jr. said. “I would’ve loved to have done his whole name, but I’m not that smart. I just wanted to tell the kid you’re part of the Sharks family and we’re excited for you.”
One Big Happy Sharks Family
It seemed like the entire San Jose Sharks family came out for this Zoom call.
You should probably watch because some familiar faces crashed the interview to say congrats 😂 pic.twitter.com/TVIKIOU9Ru
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 7, 2020
Trevor Redden, the play-by-play voice of Wiesblatt’s Prince Albert Raiders, told the Wilsons, “I’ve been on a couple Zoom calls, I haven’t seen that tonight.”
The four Sharks welcomed Wiesblatt in distinct ways.
“Now get back in the gym!” a jovial Brent Burns teased Wiesblatt. “You look great in the suit, but we need you in the old gym clothes.”
Logan Couture, noted sports junkie, mentioned learning about Wiesblatt on Sportsnet: “Your mom seems like an angel.”
Kevin Labanc was the only San Jose player to formally introduce himself to Wiesblatt. “It’s just the beginning of the process,” said the 24-year-old winger, who’s closest to Wiesblatt in age.
Finally, Erik Karlsson fumbled with his Zoom, before saying dryly, “I’ve got another seven years left. We’ll play together. I’m happy to be a part of that. It’s going to be something really great…hopefully sooner than later.”
And of course, Wiesblatt has already played with a member of the San Jose Sharks.
— Noah Gregor (@n_gregs20) October 7, 2020
“Me and Noah, when we first met, we kind of clicked right away. Ended up being linemates for the majority of the year,” Wiesblatt said. “Can’t wait to see some familiar faces.”
He added: “I can already tell that the Sharks organization is a family. I’m just ecstatic to be a part of it.”
What Does Wiesblatt Bring?
But what about Wiesblatt the player?
Wilson Jr. likes everything about Wiesblatt, on and off the ice:
“He’s one of the fastest kids in all of major junior hockey. We were looking for speed. We were looking for playmaking. We were looking for possession. We’re looking for puck protection and pursuit.
“No one gains the o-zone like he does. He’s shifty.
“Guys would get run, he was the first guy in the pile. That’s the kind of kid he is.
“He’s an agitator. He’s new-age toughness in the NHL.”
This jibes with everything that I’ve read in the McKeen’s 2020 NHL Draft Guide and the Elite Prospects 2020 NHL Draft Guide. Here’s just a sample of the good stuff in both guides — also Future Considerations was kind enough to share a full scouting report!
Per Elite Prospects:
“He’s arguably one of the best rush offence creators at 5-on-5 in the entire draft…works from a constant base of activity, and never lets his foot off the gas…human cheat code in transition.”
“He lacks off-puck timing and spatial awareness…lack of a credible shooting threat.”
“He’s more of a playmaker anyway.”
“He could be a complementary piece in the top-six or a play-driver in the bottom-six.”
Per McKeen’s Hockey:
“Abrasive energy player….his speed and relentless pursuit of the puck makes him a valuable asset…has the acceleration, the power in his stride and the breakaway top speed that make him a threat anytime he is on the ice.”
“The concern with Wiesblatt is whether he possesses high-end offensive potential…does not have a ton of confidence in his shooting ability…scouts also look for Wiesblatt’s physicality to be more consistent.”
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