A STROKE OF LUCK…
On April 29th, 2017, Flyers fans far and wide watched their TV screens in disbelief. With a stroke of luck, their team had jumped up from the 13th to the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The rebuild that GM Ron Hextall had been working on since he took the reins from Paul Holmgren was instantly propelled into the future the day Nolan Patrick put on the Orange and Black.
Fast forward to present day and Flyers fans have faced mixed reviews on their standout rookie. Patrick has seen his fair share of ups and downs in the NHL in the short time he’s been there. He’s missed a stretch of 9 games with a concussion, scored a couple of goals and has shown flashes of his phenomenal playmaking ability. Through 25 games, he’s managed 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points. He’s averaged just 12:02 on the ice and has went through a few cold stretches already this year.
But is there a reason to panic? Here’s how Patrick’s first 25 NHL games stack up against that of the past 5 forwards that were selected 2nd overall:
Nolan Patrick, Philadelphia Flyers
2-5–7, -2 Plus/Minus, 12:02 ATOI
Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
13-6–19, 0 Plus/Minus, 18:26 ATOI
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
8-4–12, -5 Plus/Minus, 18:58 ATOI
Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres
6-3–9, 0 Plus/Minus, 14:39 ATOI
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
4-6–10, -3 Plus/Minus, 16:52 ATOI
Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
5-6–11, +3 Plus/Minus, 17:33 ATOI
When you take into account that Dave Hakstol is severely limiting Patrick’s time on ice, Nolan really isn’t far off from his fellow 2nd overall picks. Aside from Patrik Laine’s incredible rookie campaign, one could argue that, if given the chance that these other players were to this point in their rookie seasons, Nolan Patrick would be producing at near identical levels.
All players develop at their own pace. Nolan’s rookie campaign has been marred by a nagging injury and a coach that values NHL experience over talent a bit too much. That along with the intense pressure playing in a city like Philadelphia puts on a young player can’t be understated.
There is absolutely no reason to worry about the development of the Flyers’ stud centerman. Patrick, along with the rest of the team’s young, talented core are sure to develop into a formidable group for years to come. Dave Hakstol, when asked about Nolan Patrick’s play after the Flyers’ 4-3 win over the Detriot Red Wings, stated this:
I think Patty has been building the last few games here. Tonight, I thought throughout the game he was a solid, consistent player. You know, as we went into the third period I thought he, without changing his game, he was just very reliable in the third period and was still effective with the puck moving up ice. So yeah it’s steps in the right direction and tonight he was a significant player for our team.
Steps in the right direction! That’s exactly what all Flyers fans should be hoping to see over the rest of the season. Nolan certainly seems to have turned a corner and will surely continue to build on his play on a nightly basis.
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Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports