Let’s take a quick look back in time. Do you remember the time the Flyers made a historic jump in the draft lottery? We thought they’d be picking 13th, and then they swept in and nabbed the second overall pick? Defying all odds? Is this ringing any bells? It’s pretty wild, and pretty great.
And it gets even better. With that pick, they selected one Nolan Patrick, the consensus first overall pick just about up until the draft, when news of another core muscle surgery caused some to worry. Or maybe New Jersey just liked Nico Hischier’s game better. Who knows. The Flyers got Patrick and he is very good, and might have even been a nice little steal at second. Let’s talk more about one of our favorite boys.
No. 2: Nolan Patrick
Age: 19 (9/19/1998)
Size: 6’2”, 198 (via)
Acquired Via: 2017 NHL Draft — Round 1, Pick 2
2017-18 League/Team/Statistics: Philadelphia (NHL) - 13 G, 17 A in 73 GP
Ranking in BSH Winter 2018 25 Under 25: 3
Patrick had, in short, quite the tumultuous season. A preseason run that showed some flash and earned him a spot on the team to start the season turned into… well, it kind of turned into a whole lot of nothing. He struggled on the score sheet—putting up just three points in his first nine games. And then things got even worse, when he was sidelined with what was never totally confirmed to be a concussion, but that we can reasonably assume was a concussion. And then we were all but back to square one with regards to getting acclimated to NHL speed. All told, Patrick put up two goals and eight points through the first half of the season and recorded 50 iCF, putting him 512 among all 608 forwards in the NHL who played 200 minutes or more over this time. A less than stellar start.
But then, something happened in the back half of the season. Everything started to click. Maybe it was the lessons really starting to stick. Maybe it was some luck turning his way. Maybe it was him feeling better physically and really getting his legs under him (Patrick would be inclined to lean towards this one). Maybe it was a combination of all of these things. But through the second half of the season, Patrick’s game made a veritable 180.
In his final 41 regular season games, Patrick notched 11 goals and 22 points, and posted 52.88 CF% at 5-on-5, second in this metric behind Oskar Linblom over this time period. And while the brief stint on the top power play unit in Simmonds’s absence boosted those scoring numbers a bit, goals are goals, and the performance that earned him that bump up shouldn’t be downplayed.
But beyond the numbers, he just looked markedly improved. The skating pace and power therein took a nice little uptick, and it finally looked like he was gaining more confidence in his game. He wasn’t just trying to keep up, he was taking over and starting to run the show. And for that he was rewarded nicely.
(Do we also want to give him a nod for looking like one of the only players who consistently showed up to play through the whole of this playoffs? Absolutely. This isn’t a subtweet. But we respect the effort. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming).
And we shouldn’t have to spell it out, but we will—this is all very good news. While he didn’t quite hit the ground running, Patrick was able to come straight out of Juniors and cobble together more than a respectable rookie season. He turned things around in the back half of the season and already showed that he can look like a very good NHL 2C. At 19 years old. After surgery in the offseason. After consecutive offseasons in which he wasn’t able to fully train because of various surgeries and injuries. Do you see where we’re heading with this? We were shown a lot of potential, and we may not have even scratched the surface yet. Next season, after a full summer of training, is his chance to show us what he’s really got. This is, in some ways, the real introduction. We’re reasonably expecting a step forward, it’s just a question of how big that step is.
And then what does all this mean for the more distant future? It means we should be getting very excited.
Now, I know we should be all about tempering expectations and not getting our hopes up too high, lest something awful happen and crush all of our hopes and dreams, but let’s go a little crazy, here.
We’ve had about a half season’s look at the start of what Patrick can do. Ostensibly, his floor is solid NHL 2C. Not bad, right? So what’s his ceiling? That’s what he’s going to have to prove this season, or at least begin to gesture towards. But the signs point towards the potential for positive growth. And if the not too distant future has us looking at Very Good 2C Nolan Patrick, or even 1C Talent Level Nolan Patrick playing on the second line behind Sean Couturier, that’s great news. Somehow or another folks can get a little bent out of shape about the idea of having too much top end talent, working out how to make it all fit together and navigate whatever weird cognitive dissonance crops up over “who is the true 1C” or whatever.
But folks, I have news for you. Depth is good.
The way things are shaping up, the Flyers have two players who are presenting 1C potential, and this makes them good, this makes them dangerous as a team. We’re looking at one heck of a one-two punch on the horizon, and really all that can do is help the Flyers’ on-ice production. We can temper our expectations about what’s coming in the very near future, but we can’t ignore the potential, and it’s certainly something worth getting excited about.
How We Voted For Nolan Patrick
How We Voted At No. 2
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How The Community Voted For Nolan Patrick
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Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2018 Top 25 Under 25:
- Intro & Honorable Mentions
- No. 25: Noah Cates
- No. 24: Mark Friedman
- No. 23: Danick Martel
- No. 22: Matthew Strome
- No. 21: Taylor Leier
- No. 20: Nicolas Aube-Kubel
- No. 19: Felix Sandstrom
- No. 18: Tanner Laczynski
- No. 17: Jay O’Brien
- No. 16: Samuel Morin
- No. 15: Isaac Ratcliffe
- No. 14: German Rubtsov
- No. 13: Mikhail Vorobyev
- No. 12: Wade Allison
- No. 11: Robert Hagg
- No. 10: Joel Farabee
- No. 9: Scott Laughton
- No. 8: Oskar Lindblom
- No. 7: Philippe Myers
- No. 6: Morgan Frost
- No. 5: Travis Sanheim
- No. 4: Carter Hart
- No. 3: Travis Konecny