Kyle Davidson made the tough decisions some thought he wouldn’t. He blew up the young core of the Chicago Blackhawks and signaled an intent to rebuild. Whatever the team had put together under the previous regime wasn’t working. Much of that was due to the poor decisions of his predecessor, Stan Bowman. If the new GM were to shift the franchise’s fortunes, he’d have to start over. That involved trading two key pieces Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach for several picks, including the 7th and 13th overall in the 2022 draft.
Unsurprisingly, the selection of Kevin Korchinski out of the WHL at #7 got most of the headlines. The Blackhawks need quality defensemen, and he is a special case in that he has so much to offer on the offensive end as well. However, some experts believe the team’s best pick came eight slots late with center Frank Nazar. Not only does Mark Scheig of The Hockey Writers love the pick, but he went as far as to call it the biggest steal of the entire NHL draft.
Hearing his explanation makes it easy to understand why.
Nazar is one of the most exciting players in this draft. As mentioned above, it starts with his skating. He can win races to pucks. He can get back in a hurry if needed. In terms of what he can do on the ice, very few can match him.
Where Nazar really started to sell me was his improvement in the offensive zone. He started to show a more creative side to his game. I came into the year thinking he was more of a straight-line player who would use his speed to make everything happen. But now he has demonstrated an ability to make plays with that speed while making good passes.
Nazar is no slouch defensively either. His effort and fearlessness helped him to break up plays. He could then start transition from that. Even if he wasn’t on the scoresheet, I usually noticed him doing something. That’s the “it” factor that helps me separate good from potentially great.
The Chicago Blackhawks have a knack for finding firepower.
Patrick Kane is the obvious golden example, but other arrivals like Artemi Panarin and DeBrincat prove their scouting department knows what to look for. His work with the U18 U.S. national team is proof of that. Across 56 games, Nazar scored 28 goals and dished out 40 assists. With his help, the team was able to secure a silver medal in the World Championships last spring. He had three goals and two assists in the playoff rounds alone.
At 18 years old, he is only scratching the surface of what he can do. With some seasoning in the minors, he can become a core offensive presence for the Chicago Blackhawks not too far down the line. Considering their glut of defensive prospects in the pipeline, the team may finally be able to stop opponents from scoring too. If Davidson handled this draft right, the organization might start an overdue turnaround.