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NHL Mock Draft 2022: Columbus Blue Jackets select Frank Nazar with 12th pick

Another center from the USNTDP

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Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics - Day 12 Photo by RvS.Media/Basile Barbey/Getty Images

With the 12th pick in the 2022 SBNation NHL Mock Draft, on behalf of the Columbus Blue Jackets we are excited to select center Frank Nazar out of the U.S. National Team Development program.

Yesterday, we used our first selection on Nazar’s teammate, Cutter Gauthier. The subsequent picks were:

7. Joakim Kemell - OTT
8. Matthew Savoie - DET
9. Conor Geekie - BUF
10. Kevin Korchinski - ANA
11. Jonathan Lekkerimäki - SJS

Savoie and Geekie were other centers I had my eye on, so I was sad to see them go. I was in range to select a defenseman like Denton Mateychuk or Pavel Mintyukov, but another left-handed, offense-first defenseman didn’t seem like as much of a need. With there being some question about whether Gauthier could play, might as well throw another player in the mix who can play center. Cole Sillinger is one of our top two centers for the foreseeable future, then get one of Kent Johnson, Gauthier, or Nazar to fill the other spot, with the other two playing wing.

Other players I considered were Brad Lambert and Marco Kasper, but their production in top European pro leagues didn’t exactly jump off the page.

Nazar is a polarizing prospect. NHL Central Scouting has him as just the 21st best North American skater, but Elite Prospects has him 4th among all players in the class, and Blue Jackets reporter Mark Scheig of The Hockey Writers named Nazar his steal of the draft. Nazar will be a freshman at the University of Michigan in the fall (I know, it’s gross) where he’ll be surrounded by another stacked roster, even after the departure of Kent Johnson and Co.

What do you think of this pick, and our mock draft class overall?

Poll

What do you think of the #12 pick?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    I agree with picking Nazar
    (49 votes)
  • 12%
    I prefer Lambert
    (11 votes)
  • 11%
    I prefer Kasper
    (10 votes)
  • 5%
    I prefer Mateychuk
    (5 votes)
  • 10%
    I prefer Mintyukov
    (9 votes)
  • 4%
    I’d take a different player (share in the comments below)
    (4 votes)
88 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How would you feel about the Blue Jackets selecting Cutter Gauthier and Frank Nazar in the first round?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    I’d be happy!
    (39 votes)
  • 25%
    We should have gotten a defenseman
    (22 votes)
  • 11%
    I like Nazar, but not Gauthier
    (10 votes)
  • 14%
    I like Gauthier, but not Nazar
    (13 votes)
  • 3%
    I’d prefer two different forwards
    (3 votes)
87 votes total Vote Now

Frank Nazar

Position: C/RW
Team: USNTDP (USHL)
Date of Birth: January 14, 2004
Birthplace: Mt. Clemens, MI
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 181 lbs
Shoots: Right

Rankings

Ranked #8 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #5 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #10 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #14 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #12 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #25 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #21 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #14 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #11 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #13 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #4 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #10 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #7 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #12 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY

2021-22 Stats

USDP/USHL
Games Played: 56/24
Goals: 28/15
Assists: 42/20
Points: 70/35
PIM: 20/8
Plus/Minus: 38/26

Scouting Reports

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 already had the ability to finish especially when he was in close quarters. He has some of the best hands in this draft. Whether it was to unleash his shot or to put the puck in a better position, Nazar’s creativity and hockey sense jumped out at me the more I’ve watched him. - Mark Scheig, The Hockey Writers

He flashes creativity throughout his game. He plays pucks into space as well as anyone in the draft, regularly executing through tight gaps in coverage. And he’s just a hungry, driven player who consistently targets the middle lane with his greatest asset: his skating. Nazar’s one of the fastest players in the draft, not only in straight lines and winding up through his crossovers, but also adjusting tempos (a learned skill that he really developed at U.S. NTDP). This allows him to impact play both with the puck attacking in transition to turn defenders or creating breakaways, as well as without it, speeding into lanes to get open for his linemates.

He also consistently supports the play high in the offensive zone without possession when that’s his role. He can be careless with the puck and try to do too much at times but he’s also capable of going right into coverage to make something happen. He’s still got some work to do to add muscle, but he’s an extremely gifted athlete who moves and does things on the ice that few can. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Simply put, Nazar is the style of player you would love to have on your team but would be a huge thorn in your side to play against. He can beat you offensively using his very talented skating ability and incredible playmaking skills, and he can beat you defensively by using his impressive hand-eye coordination and relentless effort to disrupt any sort of offense your team looks to create. - Paul Zuk, Smaht Scouting

That last one sounds like a Columbus-style player, right?

Highlights

At 0:58 there’s a play that made my jaw drop, where he lost his stick, picked one up as he skated by the bench, and still had enough speed to win the race to the puck and set up his teammate for a goal. Every other clip is like something out of an And1 Mixtape. Ridiculous speed and puck skills.