The Emergence of Nolan Patrick as Future Face of Philadelphia Flyers
Nolan Patrick is the future of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Watching his game grow throughout a tough rookie season has been a journey. It all started with the expectations that come with being the number two overall pick in the NHL Draft. The last Flyer to be chosen second overall was James van Riemsdyk, in 2007. He didn’t make the team until 2009. With Patrick, there’s a whole new level of hype. With two abdominal surgeries already behind him, he made the team out of camp.
Best case scenario, he records 50 points.
At first, things didn’t go as planned. Patrick tallied 11 points in his first four months of NHL hockey. Then, he began to turn it around. In the last 29 games, he has 18 points, including a four-game goal streak — two of them game winners.
The first three point game of his career came against the Islanders on March 3, and gave him four points in two games.
So what’s changed?
Well, if we look back at the beginning, it becomes clear.
Patrick was getting third and even fourth line minutes to start the season. A concussion suffered October 24 forced him out for two weeks. He spent a lot of time with an often now healthy scratch, Dale Weise (8 points). Finally, how could he be at an NHL level of fitness if he was recovering from surgery? Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere had similar abdominal surgeries, and are having career seasons after fully recovering.
In December, Patrick played 145:38, only six minutes more than Weise. In March he logged almost an hour and a half more ice time (233:43). The Flyers have made his first season easier by giving him sheltered minutes, something that many fans didn’t agree with.
Another, much more important change: his linemates.
Going from Dale Weise to Jakub Voracek is about as much as a rookie could ask for. Now on the second line, Patrick has found chemistry with Voracek, and especially with AHL call-up Oskar Lindblom. That line passes all kinds of eye tests, and brings much needed depth to the forward corps. This allows guys like Wayne Simmonds, perennial 30 goal scorer, to round out the top nine crew.
We saw how long it took Couturier to break out.
Going into a full off-season of training and rest, as well as top level workouts and team exercises, could yield a version of Patrick we haven’t seen yet.
My personal prediction? He comes back next year, healthy, and hits that 50 point mark.