It’s been over 600 days since Nolan Patrick last played a game in the NHL. Those days have been full of agonizing uncertainty for fans wondering if he’d ever really blossom into the player we all assumed he’d be when he was taken with the 2nd overall pick. They’ve been difficult to swallow as media when we can’t have our questions answered. After all of that waiting and numerous false alarms, conspiracy theories, and lots of pointless arguments on Twitter, it finally happened.
Nolan Patrick is back.
Sam Carchidi reported this morning that Patrick would be practicing today, simultaneously confirming that he’d made the training camp roster and that (by extension) he’d passed his physical. This is some long-needed good news for Flyers fans, some of whom were concerned that the Winnipeg native would never play another game. With the Flyers again looking to contend in an even more difficult divisional setting this year, adding an extremely talented player like Patrick to shore up the 3C spot is a huge deal. Expect more details to come this afternoon.
When looking at how Patrick affects the roster with his return, there are a few key things to consider. The chief thing that Flyers fans should be concerned about is his ability to get up to speed after taking a hiatus from hockey with contact for almost two years. Still, Patrick’s talent is unquestionable; the big centerman has a pro frame, good hands and a high hockey IQ, and at just 22 years old there’s still a ton of potential waiting to be unleashed here. We’ve seen flashes of what Nolan Patrick can be at times, but he’s only ever put his game together over small stretches or half of a season. The key to Patrick having a breakout will be a shift in his mentality that allows him to stay locked in the entire year.
I think we can all safely expect Patrick to anchor the 3C spot for most of the season for the Flyers, barring another injury. With the AHL season being delayed to February, the option for a conditioning stint in the minors has been eliminated. I wouldn’t say he’s anywhere close to being a lock for the starting lineup on opening night. That depends entirely upon how he looks in camp. Still, it’s very exciting to get back a talented, likable player who could easily take the Flyers from “pretty good” to “scary good” with a breakout season. If Patrick manages to average around .5 points per game this year, this team can do just that.
Photo Credit – Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire