Should the Flyers Invest in Nolan Patrick?

Nolan Patrick
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MARCH 19: Philadelphia Flyers Center Nolan Patrick (19) looks on during the game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers on March 19, 2019 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

As a number two overall pick, you hope for the kind of production and development that can turn a premier draft pick into a franchise superstar. Nolan Patrick was drafted second overall in the 2017 entry draft, playing 73 games in his rookie campaign. Additionally, he participated in six playoff games in the 2017-2018 season. Everything, at first, sounds promising about Patrick’s career as a Philadelphia Flyer. Three seasons in, the mood has changed.

Battling a neurological condition is more frightening than having to rehab from sports-related surgery. The reason I say that is because, as an epileptic, you never really recover from that condition. You learn to manage it with the proper medicine. When an ACL tears, surgery repairs that problem. Nolan Patrick’s battle with a migraine condition hangs a question mark over the availability of his career.

Ideally, it would be a no brainer to invest just over $874k in Nolan Patrick as the Philadelphia Flyers head into the 2020-2021 season. Chuck Fletcher has been optimistic about Patrick’s return, but the time table has always delayed even more. We’re talking about a player that provides a boost to the Flyers forwards when he is in the lineup. Patrick, turning 22-years-old in just about ten days, is a part of a young nucleus. What overrides Patrick’s potential is the probability that he could be a health liability with his neurological condition.

In the best-case scenario, the Philadelphia Flyers can offer a one-year contract that pays Nolan Patrick around $900k. It is a “prove it” deal that provides an opportunity for Patrick to prove he can carry on a healthy career. The contract offered is a low-risk, high reward extension. What turns that scenario on its ear is if Patrick takes a hard enough hit that aggravates his migraine condition. Now, the Flyers have $900k tied up on the salary cap for a player that cannot play hockey.

When weighing the option to offer an RFA tender to Nolan Patrick before 2020-2021, it’s vital to think about the best and worst-case scenarios. Which is more likely to happen? Will Patrick start at the beginning of 2020-2021 after having no time table for a return, even in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs? The Philadelphia Flyers saw Oskar Lindblom return after completing his cancer treatments during the postseason. At a point during the 2019-2020 season, that was the impossibility, and Patrick returning was more likely.

The other Philadelphia Flyer who is serving on the long-term injured reserve list is Samuel Morin. I believe the reason why the Flyers have invested in Morin is that it is not unusual for professional hockey players to continue their careers after season-ending surgery. There was a time table for Morin’s return, but Nolan Patrick’s is unknown. Either Chuck Fletcher gambles a qualifying offer of $874,125 for Patrick and keeps a potential superstar for a bargain, or spends that same amount, and the contract is effectively dead money on Philadelphia’s books. Patrick, in his first two seasons, played more than seventy games, averaged more than thirty points, and won more than 50% of his face-offs in his two active NHL seasons.

Mandatory Credit – Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire