In late December, I wrote a piece about Nolan Patrick’s first 25 games in the NHL. Back in the early days of the 2017-18 season, he had already suffered a few set backs and, with Nico Hischier lighting the league on fire from the start of the year, it was understandable to have some doubts about the Flyers’ 2nd overall pick.
Now, four short months later, the Philadelphia fanbase has been treated to a year full of surprises. The 76ers are tearing through the Eastern Conference playoffs with no end in sight, the Phillies are a force to be reckoned with after years of mediocrity, the Eagles are Super Bowl Champions (!!!) and our beloved Orange & Black gave the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions a run for their money before their untimely demise in the first round of the playoffs. Overall, 2018 has been a year to remember in Philly.
The Flyers endured a ten game losing streak, a month full of success unrivaled in recent memory, and a boat load more of ups and downs that will both bring joy and leave something to be desired for fans all across the Philadelphia Metropolitan area and beyond. One of the many positives to build on after a long, tumultuous season is the rise of the Flyers’ young core. Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Robert Hagg, and Nolan Patrick in particular we’re a constant reminder of where this team is heading. Their fantastic seasons are only the beginning of a long reign of Flyers dominance in the ever-changing NHL.
Focusing on Patrick, let’s take a look at how the remainder of his rookie season as well as the entire season as a whole stacks up against other recent 2nd overall draft picks:
After first 25 games of rookie season:
48 GP, 11-12-23, +3 Plus/Minus, 14:37 ATOI
48 GP, 23-23-45, +7 Plus/Minus, 17:38 ATOI
56 GP, 16-28-44, -11 Plus/Minus, 19:11 ATOI
54 GP, 17-16-33, -8 Plus/Minus, 17:51 ATOI
29 GP, 4-10-14, 0 Plus/Minus, 17:18 ATOI
57 GP, 17-24-41, +17 Plus/Minus, 19:05 ATOI
Entire rookie season:
73 GP, 13-17-30, +1 Plus/Minus, 13:43 ATOI
73 GP, 36-28-64, +7 Plus/Minus, 17:55 ATOI
81 GP, 24-32-56, -16 Plus/Minus, 19:07 ATOI
79 GP, 23-19-42, -8 Plus/Minus, 16:50 ATOI
54 GP, 8-16-24, -3 Plus/Minus, 17:06 ATOI
82 GP, 22-30-52, +20 Plus/Minus, 18:37 ATOI
The most noticeable piece of information on this list is Patrick’s usage compared to the other players rookie years. He wasn’t relied on nearly as heavily. His average time on ice is significantly lower than every player on this list and this can be attributed to a few different reasons. To start, Ron Hextall’s patient approach all but assured that Patrick’s usage would need to be managed in order to not “hinder his progression”.
Coach Dave Hakstol shares a similar view to his boss in that he’d rather let his veterans carry the load and let his young players build their game slowly instead of throwing them to the wolves. The Flyers were also more competitive then most of the clubs that landed the rest of the players on this list the following season. A team that’s finding success without putting too much stress on their prospects to be impact players right away has no reason to push them out of their comfort zone. Lastly, Nolan Patrick had much more prominent injury concerns than the other players.
Over-working a player and risking a career ending injury should never be an option and the Flyers’ brass made sure to manage that accordingly. What Nolan’s point totals could have potentially reached given more ice time and a larger sample size with the level of line mates he enjoyed at the end of the season is something that won’t be clear until later in his career.
Overall, Aleksander Barkov is the most comparable of this list of players to the Flyers’ 2nd line centerman. The Florida Panthers have been on the rise in recent years and, as a result, Barkov has been given more and more responsibility. He’s seen his point totals grow on a yearly basis and has progressed into a near point-per-game player and one of the leagues premier talents. Now in his 5th NHL season, he logged 78 points in 79 games.
Some players are capable of rocketing onto the scene and making an immediate impact for his respective club. Others take some time to reach their full capability. Nolan Patrick, as made evident by his rookie season, seems to be of the latter variety. His rise to one of the league’s elite seems imminent and, luckily for both him and the Flyers fan base, Patrick will be able to progress alongside his fellow teammates. The future is bright for the Orange & Black and their 2017 2nd overall pick is a huge reason behind that. So here’s to the future!
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Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports