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2020-21 Player Review: Nolan Patrick went away with a whimper

The former second overall selection has had his fair share of troubles in Philadelphia, but it was never really a fit, especially last season.

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Nolan Patrick’s entire existence as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers has been a weird one. With overcorrection and hope that he would be worthy of his second overall status, or just plain hatred towards him for suffering through multiple injuries and not being the answer for an aging core of forwards—even at just 22 years old he was seen as washed up.

Well, now we don’t really have to worry about him anymore, as he was eventually shipped off to the Vegas Golden Knights after being a part of the package for top-pairing defenseman Ryan Ellis. Who knew that his draft pedigree could carry him that far?

Before the trade though, the majority of Flyers fans were just wishing for him to have a fully healthy return to the NHL. Missing the entire 2019-20 season due to his much talked about injuries only let his hopeful projection as a solid centerman deplete into almost nothing—now it was just whether or not he could actually remain on the ice. And playing 52 of 56 games is not bad for someone’s full return to competitive hockey games.

Patrick at least did some stuff this year.

It was a hellish career in Philadelphia, smeared by injury trouble and pondering what could have been. But he’s out of here now and in Vegas, so who really cares?

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
52 4 5 9 20 49 8.2

Woof. For some that were banking on Patrick taking a giant leap and solidifying himself as a middle-six center this year, one that seemed to be void of any major injury concern and kept him in the lineup for a significant amount of time, he sure didn’t score a lot. And that on a team that was in the top half of the league in terms of 5-on-5 goals scored. There were points to go around and Nolan was just a peripheral player while on the ice, not even cracking double-digit points.

It might just be your traditional boxscore stats, but you just see that amount of games, opportunities, minutes, and then the other half of even shots on goal (averaging less than one per game) it just speaks highly to either his lack of chances, or his lack of effort. This is a review after all, so I will criticize him for that.

5v5 0n-Ice Stats

Corsi For % Corsi For Relative Goals For % Expected Goals For % PDO
Corsi For % Corsi For Relative Goals For % Expected Goals For % PDO
50.16 -2.6 24 50.36 90.8

There’s some mediocre numbers for both shot attempt and expected goals share at 5-on-5, but barely breaking even when it comes to controlling the underlying aspects of the game isn’t a good look for a player that has been heralded as something more. It’s almost like at this point in his career, it really dawned on everybody that looking at the type of player Nolan is should be in a vacuum and not related to his prior projects or draft pedigree — he’s just there.

His on-ice goals for percentage was abysmal (but he got no help from the league-worst goaltending) so there is some more wiggle room judging him on that. Still, the team kind of just squeaked by with possession with him on the ice and got absolutely cratered with actual goals. He’s one of the five skaters out there, so he should get part of the blame.

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
0.64 0.32 9.33 0.47

More just blah, blah, blah, blah blah blah. It’s Nolan Patrick. If you really care about what he’s doing on the ice and trying to dive into the dude that would rather be hanging outside the Supreme NYC store or getting a Polar five-panel hat on Depop than play for the Flyers, than I don’t know what to tell you about him and the fact that he had a lower point production rate at 5-on-5 than Nate Thompson last season.

Three Questions

Did they live up to our expectations?

It depends on your expectation. If you really wanted him to get better, play a full season and just be there on NHL ice, then he for sure did that. Personally, I did just want him to play a full(ish) season with the slight whisper under my breath that maybe he can rediscover some of that former glory that earned him the second overall selection. It was really quiet though, like a murmur that snuck through the thinnest gap in my lips.

There were certainly some that were more hopeful, but also others that saw him as a career AHL player. So it’s certainly a mixed bag for a polarizing player within the Flyers fan base. He was just down the middle average and kind of boring as a hockey player this season.

Also, he was projected and expected to get traded anyways, and he brought back a top-pairing defenseman—something that we have all been begging and pleading for—in return. That’s beyond any expectation I personally had in mind when thinking what Philadelphia would be getting back for Patrick, I was crossing my fingers for a second-rounder.

What do we/can we expect next season?

Despite his last season in Philadelphia, you just know that Nolan is going to be a Flyer killer the second he faces them in Vegas on Dec. 10 this year. If he stays healthy (oops), it is such a likely possibility that he earns at least multiple points through this season against his old team. It’s either that or he is no longer in the NHL—there is no in-between and no grey area.

In fairness, the Golden Knights can use some help down the middle and basically cementing Patrick as your third-line center isn’t the worst thing you can do when you have Chandler “Excuse Me?” Stephenson on your top line.

How would you grade their 2020-21 season?

[Gigantic fart sound]

Patrick didn’t play good hockey. As much as the people cried out for him, wanting the best performance out of him, and whether he was still inhabited by his previous injuries, he just didn’t perform. Context can be added surely, but what he did just wasn’t worth much.

I can’t see any reason to give Patrick anything higher than a C- on his season. Sorry bud.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference unless otherwise noted.