It feels like just yesterday we were hyping up summertime scrimmages involving Nolan Patrick. Remember that? According to some, he could be founding flying across the ice and dominating play. Of course, not all of us shared that level of enthusiasm. Some people hesitated to put too much stock into no-contact pick-up scrimmages and got lambasted for doing so. A frame of mind existed that Patrick’s participation in these scrimmages meant progress, and no one should poopoo on progress. It turns out that not all progress is created equal.
After missing all of the 2019-20 campaign, Nolan Patrick made his much-anticipated return to Philadelphia this season. An absence of that magnitude is sure to create many layers of rust. With no preseason, people expected a slow start for Nolan Patrick. Well, maybe not for the moronically positive blowhards, but that is a conversation for a different day.
In reality, Patrick came out hotter than predicted, scoring a goal in the season-opener. Of course, the positivity police were in full force. Unfortunately, he cooled off shortly after. Since the first game of the season, Patrick has posted just one goal and three assists in 18 contests. Scoring isn’t everything, but for a 2017 second-overall pick, it’s going to weigh heavily on evaluators. Moving away from the goals and assist, challenges still exist when trying to pull positives from Patrick’s efforts thus far.
In general, Flyers fans are very particular about who it is acceptable to be highly critical of. Carter Hart, for example, is a no-go. It doesn’t matter how many poor games he plays. It is never his fault. Don’t you dare insult the messiah. Claude Giroux or Shayne Gostisbehere, on the other hand, we are primed and ready to destroy them after one mistake. For the most part, people place Patrick in the first category. They preach patience, constantly running to the “some players need more time to develop” well.
To an extent, patience is needed with a young player such as Nolan Patrick. Especially when you throw in the fact that he missed all of last season. However, there comes a time where displeasure becomes appropriate. The question with Patrick is, are we at that point yet?
The hard truth is, yes, we are. Patrick’s 2020-21 campaign provides little-to-nothing to get excited about. If you have to bring up one good pass or moment of physicality for a counterargument, you’re not just reaching. You are incorrect. Looking at Patrick’s performance from his last three seasons demonstrates close to no significant progression in his game. At some point, the Flyers must demand more. To this point, Patrick is failing to rise to the occasion.
Of course, this is a sensitive topic of discussion. You don’t know the true impacts of his migraine disorder in terms of on-ice performance. It is also the first thing someone will point to when they become irate about criticism towards Nolan Patrick. How long are the Flyers supposed to wait to see if he can turn things around? There comes a point where Chuck Fletcher and Co. need to determine that he will not pan out in Philadelphia. Patrick has to be a player the team can depend on to fill a top-nine role successfully. If he can’t, the franchise does the rest of the players and fan base a disservice by just waiting for the tides to change.
Unless Nolan Patrick pulls a 180, it isn’t easy figuring him into the Flyers’ future plans. With funds expected to be tight again next year, it’s hard to argue devoting any cap space to an underwhelming asset. In an ideal situation, Philadelphia will find a team that sees value in acquiring Patrick in a trade. That way, the Flyers can use him in a deal to bring in actual needle-moving talent for cup contention.
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