It didn’t take long for the Michigan hockey team to showcase its elite talent in the 2022 NHL Draft, particularly among its incoming recruits for the 2022-23 season.
Selected by the Chicago Blackhawks at 13th overall, Frank Nazar III came off the board first. He was a highly touted forward for the US National Team Development Program last season and projects to be a key center for the Wolverines next season.
In his last season with the Americans, Nazar put up an impressive 70 points in just 56 games. Nazar was also a part of Team USA at this spring’s U18 World Junior Championship, where he tallied nine points in six games and helped it secure a silver medal.
The most impressive attribute of Nazar’s game is his skating, which he uses to help out on defense and break out in transition quickly. Nazar looks to play a balanced, two-way game, modeling his playstyle after NHL stars Brayden Point and Patrice Bergeron, who are among the best players on both sides of the ice in today’s game.
Nazar will be a major focus of Chicago’s future, but first he will take his talents to Ann Arbor. He will help fill in an immediate void left after top center Matty Beniers signed with the Seattle Kraken, in addition to the loss of other centers in San Jose Sharks signee Thomas Bordeleau, Boston Bruins prospect Johnny Beecher and senior Garrett Van Wyhe. In mending those holes, Michigan will have to lean on Nazar’s talents at center.
And Nazar seems ready to do that right away.
While playing in an exhibition game on Feb. 2 against the Wolverines, Nazar flourished during his time on the ice, scoring two goals. Nazar even had the chance at a hat trick but passed the puck up to his teammate to attempt to clinch a USNTDP victory.
“I figured I would have a better chance than just the breakaway,” Nazar said after the game. “I heard him screaming and I was like ‘I’ll get him involved in the play.’ I wasn’t really thinking too much (about a) hat trick … (A team win) is the one and only (important) outcome for me.”
And for both Michigan and the Blackhawks, a team-oriented center is exactly what they need.