Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “2021 NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Olen Zellweger Scouting Report.
Drafted in the second round, 42nd overall by the Everett Silvertips in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, Owen Zellweger had a real breakout season this year. He went from a bit part in 2019-20 to one of the key members of the team. The Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta native put up two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 11 games during this COVID shortened season. He also joined Team Canada for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Zellweger scored one goal and seven assists for eight points in seven tournament games. He helped Team Canada come home from Plano, Texas with the gold medal.
In 2019-20 Zellweger scored two goals and 10 assists for 12 points in 58 games. He also played for Team Canada Red at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He put up two assists in five tournament games. In 2018-19 Zellweger played for Team Alberta at the Canada Winter Games. He put up one goal and one assist for two points in six games and helped the team to a bronze medal. Zellweger also made his WHL debut, getting in one game for the Silvertips. He put up 27 points in 35 games for Edmonton Prep.
Olen Zellweger Scouting Report
Left Defence — shoots Left
Born September 10th, 2003 — Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
Height 5’10” — Weight 175 lbs [178 cm/79 kg]
Zellweger is an undersized defenceman but makes up for it with his outstanding skating ability. He is extremely mobile and this helps him at both ends of the ice. Zellweger has near perfect technique with excellent speed and acceleration in both directions. He also has very good agility and edgework. This allows Zellweger to maintain good gap control and makes him tough to beat in one-on-one situations. It also allows him to walk the line in the offensive end and open up passing and shooting lanes. Zellweger’s ability to avoid forecheckers and defenders in the neutral zone allows him to carry the puck out of his end as well as generate effective zone entries at the opposition’s blue line.
His strong crossovers help him gain speed going backwards and to accelerate out of turns. Zellweger also has clean and crisp pivots. They allow him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He needs to add muscle to his frame in order to be stronger on his skates and to win battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Zellweger’s offensive game has really taken off in the past year. He is an excellent passer and moves the puck up the ice quickly starting the rush for his team. He is also a good stickhandler who can carry the puck out of his zone and lead the rush through the neutral zone. Zellweger loves to push the pace and create odd man rushes. If a teammate gets behind the defence, he can hit them with a long breakaway pass. He also controls the puck at the blueline, showing poise in the face of pressure. He has good vision and creates offensive chances on the power play. Zellweger uses his lateral mobility and quick hands to make sudden shifts and open up passing and shooting lanes.
Zellweger has an excellent wrist shot. He gets it off with a lightning quick release. It is accurate and he also generates a lot of power. Zellweger uses his shot well off the rush. It is also his preferred method of attack from the point. He will sneak into the top of the faceoff circles before getting his wrister on the net. He understands how to get it on the net through traffic as well as the importance of keeping it low so his teammates can get a deflection or rebound. When Zellweger uses his slap shot, he generates a lot of power as well.
Zellweger’s skating helps him in the defensive end of the ice. He is very hard to beat off the rush and he maintains good gap control. He has a quick stick and can poke check an opponent, stealing the puck. His quick stick is also good at cutting down passing lanes. When a turnover is created, Zellweger quickly transitions to offence. He can skate the puck out of the zone as well as make a good first pass. He is also quick to retrieve loose pucks. However,
Zellweger has some areas to work on as well. He needs to be stronger as he can be outmuscled when defending against the cycle. He also has issues in clearing the front of the net. Zellweger could improve these areas of his game by adding muscle to his frame, but he willl likely always be somewhat undersized, especially when facing bigger and stronger opponents at the next level. He also needs to work on his positioning away from the puck. Zellweger can sometimes be undisciplined in his positioning. He will leave his man and look to chase the puck carrier, even when he is engaged with a teammate. This can lead to his man being alone in dangerous areas.
Projection and Comparison
Zellweger has the tools to be a top-four defender at the NHL level if he reaches his ceiling. His lack of size and strength will likely prevent him from playing against the opposition’s best players but his skating and offensive game could see him develop into an important contributor at even strength and on the power play. He will need time to add muscle to his frame as well as work on his play away from the puck. Zellweger is one of the youngest players in the draft. If he was five days younger, he would be part of the 2022 NHL Draft. Zellweger needs several years at the WHL and AHL levels before he can make an NHL impact. His game is reminiscent of Quinn Hughes. This is a stylistic comparison only though, not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Olen Zellweger that are available on youtube and Twitter.
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) May 2, 2021
Nice play here by one of my favourite #2021NHLDraft prospects Olen Zellweger.
Fantastic usage of pace changes & patience upon his entry. Does a great job of keeping his feed moving with the puck in a shielded position and fires a dangerous pass into the slot. Elusive and smart. pic.twitter.com/ettc1moJhY
— Ash Glover (@AshGloverHockey) March 26, 2021
Olen Zellweger (#2021NHLDraft) is fun.
After pinching up, he's slightly out of position, but with two lengthy skate extensions he gathers enough speed to catch up to the puck carrier. Then uses an active stick in the neutral zone to shut down the rush. pic.twitter.com/fdDJJPoulV
— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) June 6, 2021
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 21, 2021
— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) May 7, 2021
Another fun Olen Zellweger clip. After pinching up and taking a shot down low, he spots an attacker looking to spark a breakout. Uses his reach in a puck battle to regain possession and then delivers a cross ice feed to his winger down low.
— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) June 23, 2021
Working on an Olen Zellweger report and I'm loving his silky smooth wrist shot release.
Olen was working on his shot during the pandemic and posted numerous videos on his twitter handle. His work paid off. Two goals in 11 GP in league play and a goal at the U18s. pic.twitter.com/MRZWisfELX
— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) June 22, 2021
Great job by #silvertips defender Olen Zellweger, separating the puck by angling the attacker into a stick check and using points of reference to manipulate forecheckers and evade pressure until he finds the right exit strategy. Dynamic qualities. @FCHockey pic.twitter.com/SPOXPX9HHz
— Justin Froese (@froesehky) December 11, 2020
This is @WHLsilvertips Olen Zellweger as a WHL rookie. A lot of excellent transferable tools on both sides of the puck. Elite IQ to manage ice & find the best option out of the zone by evading the forecheck. He is one of the good ones and is getting due credit @FCHockey pic.twitter.com/vWEAopMmvm
— Justin Froese (@froesehky) June 13, 2021
Olen Zellweger @o.zellweger (Team Alberta #2, Fort Saskatchewan, 15) – here's a player that is more than capable of making the jump to the WHL as a sixteen year old – high end skill, smarts and hands … pic.twitter.com/LCvF5isGWg
— The Scouting News (@hockeyscouting) February 27, 2019
This is a really nice play from rookie defenseman Olen Zellweger and good glimpse of his skillset.
— Josh Horton (@byJoshHorton) February 24, 2020
Helluva pass here from Olen Zellweger and Brendan Lee almost with a spectacular goal here after dangling around his defender. Lee, a Seattle native, brings a lot of skill to Everett's lineup as a young gun. pic.twitter.com/NAuUETYyeU
— Josh Horton (@byJoshHorton) October 29, 2019
Check back later for our latest draft article.
Olen Zellweger Scouting Report Main Photo:
EVERETT, WASHINGTON – APRIL 06: Everett Silvertips defenseman Olen Zellweger #48 watches the puck in the third period of a game between the Portland Winterhawks and the Everett Silvertips at Angel of the Winds Arena on April 06, 2021 in Everett, Washington. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images)