The IIHF World Junior Hockey Tournament starts in a few days and the Chicago Blackhawks have four prospects playing for Team USA.
Center Frank Nazar, forwards Oliver Moore and Gavin Hayes, and defenseman Sam Rinzel will look to help the USA win the premier international hockey tournament at the junior level.
The red, white, and blue got in a tune-up with an exhibition game against Sweden. The U.S. railed to beat Sweden by two goals.
None of the Hawks' four prospects factored into any scoring. Nazar, who was the second-line center, did make an impression in the game.
He pulverized Jakob Noren with a clean hit.
It was a textbook check to remove a player from the puck.
Noren's ancestors had to have felt that hit. Noren laid on the ice for a bit but was able to leave the game under his own power.
Nazar is an exciting prospect who could become a great second-line center for the Chicago Blackhawks someday.
The only reason the second line is tied to Nazar is Connor Bedard is going to be the center on the first line for hopefully the next 15-20 years.
Nazar is considered a level two prospect by CHGO's Blackhawks Podcast host and beat writer Mario Tirabassi. It means he is a quality prospect with the potential to have a long and very productive career. The Athletic ranked him as the Hawks' fifth-best prospect in August (need a paid subscription to access the link). That list included Bedard, Kevin Korchinski, and Lukas Reichel who no longer qualify as prospects.
He was the second of three first-round picks the Blackhawks made in the 2022 draft when he was selected at No. 13. Nazar is currently at Michigan where he has seven goals and ten assists.
Nazar is only 5'9" and 170 pounds so packing a wallop like he did is not something you would expect. If he can provide some physicality, that would be a welcome surprise once he arrives in the NHL.