(Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in Chicago Hockey Now’s Blackhawks of Tomorrow series about Chicago Blackhawks prospects. Today we look at forward Frank Nazar).
When the Chicago Blackhawks dealt once-upon-a-time future foundational player in Kirby Dach, it signaled another violent shift into a rebuild. Montreal surrendered its 13th overall pick (originally the New York Islanders) and gifted general manager Kyle Davidson his second first round pick of the evening.
The choice was University of Michigan forward Frank Nazar.
Nazar rocketed up the board and was one of the darlings of the analytics crowd. But he also caught the eye of more traditional analysts as well. Nazar trained and played in the United States National Team Developmental Program. As a youngster from Michigan, Nazar played on the top-tier Honeybaked program in the Metro Detroit area before heading over to the US program. From there, Nazar committed to the University of Michigan and was then finally by the Blackhawks.
The whirlwind slowed, but so, too, did some of his momentum. Nazar was injured prior to taking the ice with Michigan in October. The hip injury required surgery, and Nazar made his debut in March with the Wolverines. What he showed was exactly why the Blackhawks spent their second first-round pick on him.
Nazar is at heart a playmaker, but has the tools to score at a high clip and win the crucial face-off that places centers on the ice in the crucial moment. Of the 13 games he played, Nazar had seven points (2-5). During Michigan’s run to the Frozen Four, Nazar gained critical playing time in a high stakes tournament.
The steps forward should play dividends in the future.
While Korchinski has appeared to be an absolute home run and potential steal of a first round pick, Nazar may very well be in the same category. Nazar has all of the skills that teams crave, and while he’s still a couple inches below six-feet, his skill and speed more than make up for the smaller frame.
The ceiling that Nazar has though is what excites. Going to the Frozen Four in his freshman year, especially after missing the bulk of the season was a tremendous experience for him. Now, he has the chance to build on it in his sophomore season as other key players graduate or likely head to the NHL. Teammate Adam Fantelli is one of these players, and Nazar could fill the void he leaves if he’s indeed a roster player next Fall.
Davidson traded two players that were thought to be cornerstones of the franchise for years to come. It’s very likely that he snagged two more who can not only restore the foundation, but build an even stronger team for the future. Now with Connor Bedard likely in the fold, Chicago can take its time with Nazar and truly allow him to “overripen.” The Blackhawks now have a chance to make the most of an already great situation.
Nazar is the real deal. With proper development and his health remaining steady, he could be a major part of the Blackhawks future down the road.