A crafty and skilled forward is in the top-10.
Frank Nazar is for the nerds. If there is one prospect that you want to get in on the conversation about and determine that if they slip out of the top-10 picks, they will make every team above them envious of the brave organization that selects him, it’s Frank Nazar.
The 5-foot-10 center has quickly risen up every draft board and has been heralded as one of the more creative teenagers available this summer, but some more traditional scouting outlets are a little slow to take in the hype. He will certainly earn more pedigree in the coming months — as a commit to the University of Michigan — but right now the bigger guys, notably NHL Central Scouting, has Nazar as barely a first-round pick according to their rankings. Get in while you can so you can seem and feel really smart.
BSH 2022 Community Draft Board, No. 9: Frank Nazar
Team: U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)/USNTDP Juniors (USHL)
Statistics: 28 G, 42 A in 56 GP/15 G, 20 A in 24 GP
No. 21 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 14 by McKenzie/TSN (midseason)
No. 6 by Dobber Prospects (April)
No. 10 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)
What’s there to like?
Nazar will try on every single shift everywhere on the ice. His amount of effort won’t be questioned and he uses his top-tier skating ability to produce from the high-danger areas of the ice — there is no peripheral, lazy play when it comes to Nazar.
Also, he just does some really pretty stuff on the ice.
— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) January 20, 2022
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) March 10, 2022
Nazar utilizes his ability to be an unrelenting force in all three zones to eventually put the puck in the back of the net. He can not just score off the rush chances he generates by taking advantage of sloppy defensive play with poor puck management, but he can weave his way through more stagnant defenders and put all his tools in motion to put points on the board.
He seems to project as an all-situations type of center that might not have the size capability, but certainly has the on-ice work ethic to more than make up for any literal shortcomings.
What’s not to like?
One of the downsides — as it is with really any prospect — is the lack of playing against tougher opponents. Nazar has had the national program to back up his production and development, and has played with other projected first-round picks. Maybe the way that he can slither around the offensive zone is attributed to other skaters getting more attention; or it could just be creating his own space against players that won’t see professional ice ever in their careers.
Maybe that’s it, or maybe he is just perfect.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
The Philadelphia Flyers have a lack of centers in their prospect pool. They have plenty of wingers, but Nazar would fit snug in the middle of the ice and project to be on a fairly clear path to the professional game. Even off the ice, there is enough University of Michigan presence with Cam York on the blue line, for Nazar to fit right at home and be one of the better forward prospects the team has had in a few years.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
If they want to go off the projected ranking, for sure. But they will most likely play it relatively safe and not go for the somewhat polarizing player with their fifth-overall selection. If they decided to drop and somehow end up with a pick that ranges anywhere between no. 12 or no. 20, Nazar would be a perfect fit for them there. There’s just the other (bigger) names like Logan Cooley, Matthew Savoie, Simon Nemec, and David Jiricek, that might be available for them in the top-five.
We’ll make one addition to the poll:
Cutter Gauthier — LW, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)/USNTDP Juniors (USHL) — 34 G, 65 P in 54 GP/19 G, 28 P in 22 GP
Gauthier plies his trade as a net-driven shooter who can play on the cycle and push his way to the front of the net, but I wouldn’t call him a power forward per se. He’s also not a menacing physical presence even though he plays a very engaged style. But he’s a smooth skater and despite his heavy skew toward shooting and goals, I find he sees the ice well, hits seams when they’re there, and makes a lot of short little plays as a passer off the wall (including off his backhand). After a bit of a slow start to the season, he has impressed of late, becoming a favourite among scouts for the projectability of his tools. — Scott Wheeler, The Athletic