Friday, April 19, 2024

Frank Nazar Won’t Play For Blackhawks This Year After All – And That’s A Good Thing

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Throughout the year for Michigan hockey, the expectation for star Blackhawks prospect Frank Nazar was that he would turn pro the second his collegiate season ended.

With the Wolverines still alive in the NCAA playoffs, though, that’s no longer the case. Nazar and his teammates have advanced to the Frozen Four, with games scheduled for April 11 and 13 (championship). That isn’t great news for fans who were looking to catch Nazar’s debut with Chicago – the Blackhawks’ last game is on April 18. Even if he were to sign right after his final collegiate game, Nazar would have to log at least one practice with the team before hitting the road. It isn’t worth it for Chicago to burn the first year of his entry-level contract.

That news could be seen as a bit of a bummer, as Nazar is clearly ready for the NHL. He’s a special playmaker, a skilled scorer, and a great all-around forward. He won 54 percent of his faceoffs and scored 41 points in 40 games this season at the NCAA level. He also finished third in assists at the World Junior Championships, putting on a show and proving that he can help a team in a variety of ways. To wait another six months to see him in a Blackhawks sweater is torture.

However, the fact that Nazar can keep getting quality experience under his belt without signing his entry-level contract is great news for Chicago in the long term. He has the unique opportunity to compete for a championship against some of the best collegiate talent in the country and show that he can hold his own. But assuming Nazar’s NHL contract begins next season, the former 13th-overall pick will be one year behind Connor Bedard and Kevin Korchinski, meaning all three players don’t have to be paid (assuming they’ve earned second contracts by then) at the same time. For what it’s worth, the contracts of the trio of veterans that signed this season will also expire at the same time as Bedard’s and Korchinski’s. Nazar waiting until next year is a huge relief for GM Kyle Davidson as he looks down the road.

Until we see Nazar at the United Center next year, he’s providing us plenty to get excited about. Check out this highlight-reel assist in one of the biggest moments of the year, with his team up by one in the regional final with just a few minutes to play:

While it would be great to see Nazar in Chicago for the final few games of the season, the fact that he won’t be there is great news in the long term. The Blackhawks’ top prospect should be with the team for the start of next year, but for now, it’s time to be patient.

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