With another season of Flyers hockey starting to take shape, it appears history is repeating itself for Nolan Patrick. He just cannot stay healthy, as Patrick may miss the opener with an “Upper Body Injury.” Thank God Chuck Fletcher grabbed Kevin Hayes, via free agency. Just imagine if Fletcher missed on Hayes, would the Flyers be able to withstand a Patrick injury to start the season? Maybe not, but with Hayes, the Flyers finally have the depth within the farm system to withstand this injury (Short-term), in the event Patrick cannot go on opening night.
The Flyers have some options within their system in the event Patrick is a no go on opening night. Newly crowned Head Coach Alain Vigneault continues to play Morgan Frost and German Rubtsov down the middle throughout camp and the pre-season, and one begins to wonder if he is doing this in the event Patrick is a no go to start the season. Here is a look at some Flyers line combinations, if Patrick is indeed scratched for the opener:
Giroux, Couturier, TK
JVR/Lindblom, Hayes, Voracek
JVR/Lindblom, Laughton/Rubtsov, Farabee/Twarynski/Bunnaman
Raffl, Laughton/Rubtsov/Vorobyev, Pitlick/NAK/Twarynski/Bunnaman
Injury News: Morgan Frost will miss 5-7 days with a groin strain, per Fletcher. Frost’s name has been taken out the equation for now, as the Flyers leave Friday for Europe. He still however could realistically make the team, as Frost played through the groin problem.
Morgan Frost and German Rubtsov both have had great camps. Both Frost and Rubtsov have both played Center throughout camp and pre-season games, and they have done it well. There should be no panic within the organization, as these two young prospects should be more than capable of filling this void temporarily. Moreover, the Flyers have been mum on Patrick’s injury, but with Vigneault saying he does not know if Patrick can go or not for the opener, things sure do not look good.
“Just for feeling good about yourself and confidence-wise it would be great to see them,” Vigneault said of Farabee and Frost following the game on Saturday, “They are getting so many looks. You always say, ‘As long as the chances are there, sooner or later it’s going to pay off.’ I am hoping for those young men, that it is. There’s no doubt that they’re playing well.”
Fortunately, the Flyers also have Mikhail Vorobyev as an option down the middle, as well. He has NHL experience from last season, and Vorobyev could fill in temporarily while Patrick gets healthy. Patrick is too important to the Flyers future to risk throwing him out there for the start of the season if he is not 100% healthy, not 90%, but 100% healthy.
Patrick is trying to prove to his critics that he is not a “Bust.” The key for Patrick this season was to stay healthy, as I wrote in a previous article. He has the tools offensively and defensively to become a second line Center in the future, but he does have to stay healthy to do that. Defensively he finishes his checks and has good gap control. Patrick could also see more time on the Penalty Kill this season, but his inability to stay healthy is a concern to say the least.
The Flyers have the depth within the farm system to withstand this type of injury in the early going (Short-term). What should not go unnoticed, is a kudos to Fletcher for signing Hayes. If Hayes was not signed, this Patrick injury would be a tough pill for this young Flyers team to swallow in the early going.
Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports