After going without a first-rounder just one year ago, the Washington Capitals will open off their 2022 NHL Draft with the 20th overall selection. This year’s pool presents several options, and another that stands out is center Frank Nazar.
Nazar, ranked No. 21 among North American skaters, is a product of the U.S. National Team Development Program. In 56 games this season, he dished 28 goals and 52 assists. In 24 more USHL games with the USNTDP Juniors, he picked up 15 goals and 20 assists. He will play NCAA hockey with his hometown Michigan Wolverines next season. Some projections have Nazar going in the top-15, while others have him falling into the 20s.
The 5-9, 175-pound forward is a right-handed center who has tremendous skating ability. He has an explosive stride and can play with speed and get to the high-danger areas with ease, using his edgework and quick thinking to his advantage. This makes him hard to contain in all three zones and adds to his ability to take the puck up ice and get offense going.
Frank Nazar is awesome, great speed and tenacity to get the puck and break free for the breakaway … and once he gets in close no one is stopping him
— Austin Broad (@Austin_Broad) January 23, 2022
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Beyond his skating, he is also one of the most skilled playmakers available in the first round. Nazar has tremendous stickhandling ability and is a great passer, and he sees the ice talented well. Thanks to a high hockey IQ and good vision, he can come up with plays on the fly and make good decisions, and serve as a catalyst at even strength and on the power play. Nazar also possesses a strong shot and has shown that he can be a goal scorer, too. And, while he’s not afraid to be “flashy,” he limits his mistakes and knows when to take risks.
Defensively, Nazar is a strong two-way player who can defend well, battle hard for the puck and pressure the point. He can also kill penalties. In addition, his intelligence and ability helps him carry the puck out of danger and move well through the neutral zone.
— Douglas Larson (@DL_Scouting) November 29, 2021
Overall, the 18-year-old is a smooth skater who can drive offense and play a key role at both ends of the ice at even strength and special teams. While he can continue to improve his defensive play and needs to add strength, that’s something that comes with development.
Right now, the Capitals’ priorities should be at the forward position. Nicklas Backstrom’s NHL future remains in flux, and the veteran core is aging. Down the road, Washington will need new stars and will inject more youth into the mix, and Nazar would be a strong candidate to fill a top-6 spot in the years ahead.