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NHL Draft Profile: Nathan Free

Photo credit: Davin Beer

The 2024 NHL Draft is set to take place on June 28 and 29 at The Sphere in Las Vegas, Nev. NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings include 10 players that played in the BCHL last year.

Leading up to the draft, we will share interviews with the prospects about the draft process and a variety of other subjects.

The BCHL’s 2024 NHL Draft coverage is presented by Chevrolet.


Nathan Free just wrapped up his second season with the Brooks Bandits and continued his upward trajectory since joining the organization.

The Calgary, Alta. native produced 35 points in 49 games in his rookie year, then surpassed those numbers with a combined 65 points in 60 regular-season games in 2023-24.

Free plans on returning to the Bandits for his third campaign next season, but before that, he is a prospect for this weekend’s NHL Draft.

We discuss his time in Brooks, his goals for next year, the draft and more.


BCHL: How did you handle the added pressure of it being your draft year?

Free: It’s pretty nerve-wracking, especially at the start of the year. You tend to worry about it a bit and wonder how things will go. One thing I learned as the year went on is to put it in the back of your mind and just focus on hockey. If you’re focusing on it too much, then it can become a problem.

BCHL: You took a significant step forward in your second year with the Bandits. What contributed to that?

Free: Our head coach Ryan Papaiouannou did a great job of mentoring me and making me a better player these last two years and then my linemates Logan Sawyer and Nic DeGraves were great to play with this year. They made it really easy on me to get points and to play well.

BCHL: You’re returning to Brooks next year. What do you hope to accomplish from a team perspective, as well as personally?

Free: Next year, from a team standpoint, obviously the goal is to win. That’s always the way it is in Brooks and that’s why we have such a great program, because of the mentality that the coaches instill in us. Personally, I want to get stronger, bigger and faster. I also want to be ready for that next level. That’s what next year is about.

BCHL: Your teammates Logan Sawyer and Keith McInnis are listed by Central Scouting as well. What was it like playing with them last year?

Free: Logan, he’s one of my best friends on the team. He’s a great guy and an amazing player. He’s super skilled and is a great playmaker. It’s incredible some of the passes he makes. Keith is a really good defender and a hard worker. He always comes to the rink with a smile on his face. It’s good to have guys like that on your team to push you every day.

BCHL: How would you describe your game and how do you think it will translate to the next level?

Free: I’m a quick, shifty, offensive-minded player. I’m a good playmaker with a great shot. I think I can fit into any role I’m put in. I can adapt well to my linemates in whichever way a coach needs me. I think my game will translate as a playmaker, maybe even as a power-play guy. It all depends on what a coach might see or need.

BCHL: What would it mean to you if you were to get drafted?

Free: That would mean a lot. It would be a dream come true. I’ve dreamed about getting drafted and getting a chance to play in the NHL since I started playing hockey, so it would be awesome.

BCHL: You’re committed to Penn State University when your junior career is over. Why was that school the best fit for you?

Free: Penn State reached out early. I really liked how the coaches handled themselves when they spoke with me. I got a good feeling from talking to them. When I went out on my visit with them, I had the time of my life and figured that was where I wanted to be when I was done in Brooks.