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2018-19 Player Review: Still some work to do for Nolan Patrick

Living in a middle ground, folks.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This season was Nolan Patrick’s second in the league, and this is usually when we start looking for a player to either hit a sophomore slump or take at least a significant step forward. And for Patrick, well, neither of those things happened this season. He seemed to look a little steadier and more comfortable in the league, but we also didn’t quite see that big step forward. It was just a bit more of the same. But let’s dig some more into that.

By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
71 13 18 31 27 114 11.4

We kind of alluded to this in some ways feeling like a “meh” season for Patrick, and while that isn’t entirely unfair, we also shouldn’t ignore the fact that he still broke 30 points this past season, despite missing a bit of time due to injury. The stat line doesn’t look quite as nice if we consider that it’s only a single assist increase from his total in his rookie season, but 31 points isn’t anything to scoff at. He was still out here contributing. Not too shabby, all in all.

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Score-Adjusted Corsi For% SA Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM SA Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
Score-Adjusted Corsi For% SA Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM SA Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
46.46 -1.63 -1.32 1.86 48.91 100.84

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
1.66 1 10.78 11.89

And looking at these advanced metrics, there’s a lot to parse through. The shot metrics aren’t stellar, but we also have to acknowledge that for much of the season, the Flyers just about as a whole weren’t driving play terribly well, so that’s going to be reflected some in these numbers. But at the same time, Patrick’s numbers relative to his own teammates are negative as well. It isn’t by a huge margin, but the Flyers tended to be out-chanced and out-scored at 5-on-5 when Patrick was on the ice. So those numbers certainly still do leave something to be desired.

The one area though that does figure as a positive? Those expected goals numbers. And maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise—particularly when he was playing with Oskar Lindblom, but in general, much of Patrick’s game centers around getting to the net and creating chances in close. You know, where more goals tend to come from. So even if the Flyers weren’t generating chances in bulk when Patrick was on the ice, they tended to create higher quality chances, and that seems to bode well for future results.

But, in a way, they’re sort of telling us what we already know—that while sometimes it worked out and he flashed some brilliance, all in all, Patrick struggled playing against NHL second line competition. We understand it, he’s still just 20 after all, and still just getting settled in the league, but he had a tough go, at times.

Three Burning Questions

Did this player live up to our expectations for this season?

I’m going to give this one a tentative no. Because we expected that he would take a step forward from his rookie season, and we didn’t really see that. It’s not like he took a step back, or that he even necessarily had a bad season, not by any means, but we wanted to see him look markedly better, and that just didn’t happen. If anything, it felt like more of a lateral move, with some suggestions that that step could take place. There were certainly flashes where he looked downright dominant, and he seemed to get even more settled in as the season went on, but it still wasn’t quite as much development as we thought we would see at the start of the season. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either, we know that development isn’t always linear, but the answer to our big question still has to be a no.

What do we expect from this player next season?

Okay, for real this time. We expect to see him take a step forward. He’s still very young, but this will be his third year in the league, and this is really when we’re going to need to see Patrick show us what he can really do. He’s going to have his chances to do this—since they’ve signed Kevin Hayes to fill the 2C role, this means that Patrick will be bumped down to the third line, which means he’ll likely be facing some easier competition. This also means he’ll be getting a few fewer minutes, but you can’t imagine it will be a massive difference. We’d like to see him take advantage of those easier match ups and take a step forward in scoring. Hopefully, with a new power play coach, they’ll be able to get that going as well, and then he could get a bit of a boost from this, as well. He’ll be a little bit older, have a little bit more experience, and have the opportunity to have a bit more space to work with. It’s hard to know how a player will perform in a new coach’s system, particularly a young player that’s still developing his game, but that said, we like his chances to take that next step.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

There are probably a few minor pieces of his game that we could hone in on, but the big thing is that we’d really like to see him start on time. Patrick’s made note that he’s historically been something of a slow-starter, even going back to his time in juniors, he’s said his second halves have been stronger than the first. And this is a difficult thing to reconcile—if this is just what he is, and he just finds a way to be absolutely dominant in the later part of the season after he gets going and it all sort of evens out, then it’s hard to get too upset about it, because he’s still producing and it’s perhaps even more important to show up down the stretch. But, that said, we can’t help but want him to find a way to just sort of figure it out? If it all evens out eventually, that’s great, but consistency across the season wouldn’t be the biggest ask, either.

All stats via Corsica.Hockey, HockeyDB, and Natural Stat Trick

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