2020-21 Team: Everett Silvertips
Date of Birth: Sep.10, 2003
Place of Birth: Fort Saskatchewan, AB, Canada
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 45th (amongst NA skaters)
- FCHockey: 55th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 75th
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 72
- Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 88
The Fort Saskatchewan native is not the biggest defenceman in this draft compared to top prospects Owen Power or Simon Edvinsson. At 5-foot-10, he is smaller than the average NHL defenceman, but it’s how he uses his size that separates him from his opponents. In his rookie season with the Silvertips last year, Zellweger put up 12 points in 58 games and represented Team Canada Red during the IIHF WHC-17 Tournament.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Everett Silvertips and the WHL’s U.S. Division started only in mid-March. Zellweger had an impressive start with 13 points in 11 games (nine goals, two assists) and was an offensive powerhouse. On April 1, he was named to Team Canada for the upcoming IIHF U-18 World Championships in Frisco, Texas.
There’s a lot to love about Zellweger’s game. He is an explosive and mobile defender who can shut down and choke out attacks in the neutral zone. He uses his smaller stature and speed to his advantage, which will win him most foot races to loose pucks. He has proven over the last two seasons in Everett that he is a supreme passer in the WHL, not to mention that he uses his cannon of a shot to bury the puck.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
At the U-18 World’s this past month, Zellweger proved again that he is one of the more under-rated defencemen in his draft class. He thrived on the third defensive pairing with partners Jack Matier and Guillaume Richard and even saw crucial minutes on Canada’s loaded power play. Zellweger had a big showing in the tournament, recording eight points in seven games, helping Team Canada to capture the gold medal. In a round-robin game against Switzerland, he had an impressive four assists and again showed off his precise passing and offensive awareness.
Overall, Zellweger will need a couple of years to grow and mature his game a tad more, but he will be an immediate offensive threat when he makes the leap. He has an offensive toolkit that he can utilize for years to come.
Olen Zellweger – NHL Draft Projection
Zellweger will likely be an early third-round selection. Given his impressive showing at the U18 Worlds, while also having a knockout season with the Silvertips, his draft stock should be rising, and don’t be shocked to see him get taken in the second round.
“Mobility’s the biggest selling point, leveraging explosiveness to choke out attacks in the neutral zone, join the rush.” – Mitch Brown, EP Rinkside
“Zellweger has a very good offensive toolkit that continues to shine and improve. Defensively he will continue to work on his deficiencies, but it’s a translatable structure. I view Zellweger’s ceiling as a very capable middle/bottom pairing defender at the NHL level with good scoring upside especially if given powerplay opportunities.” – Ashley Glover, Recruit Scouting
“Zellweger was a breakout candidate due in part to the excellent platform skills he possesses and the dynamic base to his skating and skill-game…He has the ability to multitask and reads ice proactively which has allowed him to show growth as an efficient defender and become a key play creator for the Tips.” – Justin Froese, FCHockey
- Hard Shot
- Offensive Awareness
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Zellweger’s offensive traits are going to outweigh the size issue that some teams may hold over him. He has the potential to become a top-four defenceman who will eat up a lot of minutes on the power play. He continues to improve as each season passes, and with a never-quit attitude, he will have a distinguished career as an NHL blueliner.
Risk – 2/5, Reward 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10, Defence 6/10
- 2016-17 AMBHL Champion
- 2017-18 Alberta Cup Champion, CSSHL U15 Champion
- 2018-19 CWG Bronze Medal
- 2020-21 U18 WJC Gold Medal