Blackhawks NCAA prospect update for 2/3: Nazar skating; Commesso thriving

Feb 3, 2023 - 4:00 PM
Notre Dame v Boston University
Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

Checking in on the Chicago Blackhawks prospects currently playing in NCAA.


Frank Nazar, Michigan

Nazar has not played this season since undergoing surgery for a hip injury back in October. An update from Ben Pope of the Sun-Times lent additional support to what seemed like the obvious conclusion: that Nazar will likely be back at Michigan next season before turning pro.

The good news is that Nazar is back skating again, as Michigan coach Brandon Naurato said on a radio show earlier this week. There’s also optimism that Nazar could see game action before this season ends. Michigan’s regular-season schedule runs through the rest of this month, followed by the Big Ten Tournament, which starts on March 3, and then the NCAA Tournament, which starts on March 23.

Ryan Greene, Boston

Stats: 21 points (6 G, 15 A) in 23 GP

Goals have been tough to come by for Greene this season, as he has not scored one since a Nov. 19 game against Northeastern. He’s still a key contributor, though, with six assists in the last six games. He’s currently fourth on the team with 15 assists and tied for fourth with 21 points.

Greene’s also been down at third-line center for the last handful of games after spending the majority of time in the last update on Boston’s second line.

Not too surprising to see the freshman come back down to earth a bit after his torrid start, but still an overall decent season from the 2022 second-round pick.

Aidan Thompson, Denver

Stats: 18 points (5 G, 13 A) in 19 GP

Thompson’s steady production has continued with one goal and five assists in the last five games, including a three-assist game against Miami (Ohio) on Jan. 14.

Thompson was in his usual spot at second-line center for Denver’s big rivalry game — the “Gold Pan” game — on Saturday night against Colorado College at Ball Arena, the home of the Colorado Avalanche.

Dominic James, Minnesota-Duluth

Stats: 18 points (8 G, 10 A) in 24 GP

James remains as one of the teams top offensive producers, second in goals (8) and points (18) while tied for third in assists (10). After a brief period of lower production early in January, James warmed back up in the second half of the month with an empty-net goal and four assists in the last three games, including a trio of assists against St. Cloud State — and fellow Blackhawks prospect Dominic Basse — last Friday night.

Based on the most recent lineup, James is still skating as the No. 1 center for the Bulldogs:

Jake Wise, Ohio State

Stats: 23 points (8 G, 15 A) in 25 GP

Wise’s numbers ticked down since the last update, with just a goal and an assist in the last four games. Not much else to report from Columbus, although the Buckeyes do have a pretty cool game coming up on the schedule:

Landon Slaggert, Notre Dame

Stats: 8 points (3 G, 5 A) in 26 GP

A tough season for Slaggert — and the Irish overall — has improved somewhat in the last few weeks, with Notre Dame winning three of its last four games. Slaggert had an assist against Wisconsin on Friday and followed that up with a goal to help ND complete the weekend sweep of the Badgers on Saturday.

Slaggert was in a second-line role for the Irish over the weekend, but he and the rest of the Irish forwards will need to find a way to replace some key offensive production, as you’ll read in the next section.

Ryder Rolston, Notre Dame

Stats: 20 points (7 G, 13 A) in 27 GP

The good news is that Rolston remains the team leader in points and assists while tied for second in goals for the Golden Domers. His production has been a key part of Notre Dame’s recent surge, with Rolston tallying five points (1 G, 4 A) in the last four games.

Here’s the bad news:

With his junior season cut short, it seems like Rolston would head back in South Bend for his senior season in 2023-24, but decisions on that are likely coming down the road.


Taige Harding, Providence

Stats: 14 points (4 G, 10 A) in 27 GP

The primary highlight of Harding’s recent stretch of play came against Merrimack on Jan. 13, when Harding scored a pair of goals and added an assist during an 8-3 Providence rout.

Here’s one of those goals:

Harding had an assist in the other four games since the last update, remaining on the second pairing for the Friars according to the most recent lineup:

Connor Kelley, Providence

Stats: 5 points (0 G, 5 A) in 15 GP

Astute observers of the defensive pairings above will have noticed that Kelley’s name was not among them. After skating in a pair of games over the first weekend of January, Kelley has been sidelined with a reported upper-body injury — although he could return this weekend:

It’s been a rough season for Kelley, who’d already missed about six weeks near the end of 2022 with another injury.

Wyatt Kaiser, Minnesota-Duluth

Stats: 11 points (3 G, 8 A) in 24 GP

As indicated in the line combos above in the Dominic James section, Kaiser remains on the top pairing for UMD and is coming off an excellent weekend for him and the entire program.

Kaiser had a pair of assists in each of UMD’s back-to-back wins last weekend over St. Cloud State — which was the No. 1 team in the country at that time — earning conference honors for Kaiser:

Those points ended what was a four-game skid without any points for Kaiser.


Dominic Basse, St. Cloud State

Stats: .923 save percentage, 2.02 goals against, 3 shutouts in 12 GP

While James and Kaiser shined in those UMD wins last weekend, one of those victories came at Basse’s expense. The 6-6 netminder played in Saturday’s game against Minnesota-Duluth and allowed five goals on 26 shots — a tough outing in an otherwise solid stretch for Basses. In his two other starts since the last update, Basse had a 27-save shutout of Colorado College on Jan. 14 and also made 28 saves in a 7-3 win over Denver on Jan. 20.

Despite that late setback, it’s still been a pretty good season for the 2019 sixth-round pick (187th overall). St. Cloud State remains a team to watch as the postseason inches closer, still clocking in at No. 5 in the most recent NCAA polls.

Drew Commesso, Boston

Stats: .910 save percentage, 2.66 goals against, 14-4 record, 19 GP

Boston is on a six-game winning streak and Commesso has played in every one of those games, picking up five of the wins. The only he didn’t tally was in Boston’s 9-6 gong-show of a win over Maine, with the Terriers taking a 4-0 lead, then letting Maine tie the game before pulling away for the late win. Commesso was chased from that game after the fifth goal against but has been otherwise excellent in net, stopping 139 of 149 shots (.933 save percentage) in the five games he finished.

Last weekend against Boston College, Commesso led BU to a sweep, including a scintillating 40-save performance in a 3-1 win on Saturday. Those back-to-back wins earned Commesso some Hockey East accolades:

Here’s one of Commesso’s big saves from the weekend:

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