April 22, 2024


CHICAGO — Frank Nazar he was getting it all during Chicago Blackhawks development camp last month.

“First time wearing a visor today,” she said with a laugh on July 11. “Well, something to get used to.”

Moving away from the packed cage he wore with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program the past two seasons is just one change for the 18-year-old center prospect, selected by the Blackhawks with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.

Next up will be adjusting to NCAA hockey with the University of Michigan in the fall.

“I think it’s going to be great,” Nazar said. “I know a lot of people there, I’ve skated with them so far this summer, getting to know the coaches really well. Growing up, playing with [Michigan assistant coach Brandon] Naurato and skating with him and Matt Lark [NTDP development coach] which also helps. I think it will be a great opportunity and I will make the most of it.”

Video: Blackhawks select forward Frank Nazar 13th overall

Nazar was third on the NTDP Under-18 team with 70 points (28 goals, 42 assists) in 56 games last season.

Adam Nightingale, who coached Nazar for two seasons at NTDP, said Nazar has already made good strides.

“He’s a real explosive skater,” said Nightingale, now the Michigan State University men’s hockey coach. “That’s the only thing that really stands out.

“What’s really grown his game is his impact when he doesn’t have the puck, with his speed. That’s sometimes a challenge. It’s one thing to be quick when you have the puck, but how do you use speed to make an impact? the Game without the puck? He’s competitive, and you put those two together, he’s obviously a very high contender.”

Nazar (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) said he will also be ready for a more physical game as he plays against the next level of competition.

“When I’m on the ice, it’s not like, ‘Oh man, I’m going to get hit if I go here,'” he said. “I just want to play the best game and do the best I can do at that moment on the ice to try to create either a scoring opportunity or something like that.

“And obviously moving forward, I’m going to work on building my body up and just getting used to it. As I mature, not only as a player but as a person, that will feed into itself.”

Those who have worked with Nazar said that if he continues to build on what he does best, he will go far.

“If he can keep it up and keep filling the net, all the chances he creates with his speed are special,” Naurato said. “Then probably the next step for him, I think he only played two years at center [NTDP] and he’s shown obviously he’s done a great job with that, but just keep developing away from the footy defensively and away from the forward to keep pushing where he can use his greatest strengths.”


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