Let’s consider that Nolan Patrick wants a fresh start. What affordable free agents could replace him on the Philadelphia Flyers?
It is hard to win from behind. From a metaphorical standpoint the former second-round pick played from behind before the puck dropped to begin the season.
Nolan Patrick missed every game of 2019-2020 due to his migraine disorder. His reintroduction to the NHL featured an abbreviated training camp and an odd schedule; the only time a season consisted of strictly divisional opponents for 56 games. It’s like he entered into a brand new world without any actual preparation or context.
His inability to catch on showed. Nine points combined with an almost league-worst plus-minus rating means Patrick wasn’t ready for the season. Chuck Fletcher settled a restructured contract with Patrick before the season, sensing his annual monetary value wasn’t accurate. Patrick first signed a deal comparable to Elias Pettersson, earning $3.575AAV. After he restructured, Patrick received just over $874k.
After hiring a new agent, Patrick is weighing his next contract alongside the trajectory of his career. Another one-year offer doesn’t mean the franchise is wholly investing but that they’re still waiting to see.
While the Flyers continue to wait, here are some alternatives Philadelphia could assess in an alternate reality without Patrick:
File this one under unlikely.
Alexander Wennberg moved from one franchise to another, leaving the Columbus Blue Jackets for the Florida Panthers before this season. In the interest of finding a fit with a new franchise, Wennberg would be right to stay with the Panthers. The 26-year-old goalscorer is coming off his best season since 2017-2018 when he played in 66 games.
If the Flyers are to make a play for Wennberg, they’ll likely pay around $2.5mil. Considering a forward isn’t atop Philadelphia’s priority list for the 2021 offseason, Wennberg could be a little too expensive.
Wennberg has proven he can be an effective bottom-six center in the NHL. When Alain Vigneault began with the Flyers, they had incredible scoring depth. Again, that is achievable this offseason. Philadelphia is not in a position to get into a bidding war with Florida over Wennberg, however.
Another player who experienced a change of scenery, Erik Haula, played on his third team in two seasons. Last season, he moved to the Florida Panthers from the Carolina Hurricanes. Now on the Nashville Predators, Haula played his best season since his final with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Haula could bring balance to the Philadelphia Flyers, scoring goals and generating scoring plays. Lately, he’s taken on a playmaker role. On the Flyers, Haula would be a solid fourth-line center with the ability to slide into the middle-six.
Currently making $1.75mil, the 30-year-old isn’t expensive. Following Haula’s 2020-2021 performance, his next contract may be similar.
At this stage, Haula is an upgrade over Nolan Patrick, but another season in Philadelphia through 2021-2022 could change that perspective.
Considering that 2021-2022 is boom-or-bust for Nolan Patrick with the Philadelphia Flyers, nobody should ostracize Chuck Fletcher if he offers another prove-it contract. The gamble could pay off if Patrick does bounce back on a bargain.
Another free agent worth a look at is Tomas Nosek. During this season, he totaled a career-high in points (8G, 10A.) Those are career-high amounts for both statistics. He only played 38 games in 2020-2021.
Right now, Nosek is making $1.25mil per season. Usually, that figure would increase when a player pushes production to a career-high, but the time he missed due to injury creates a risk. Nosek helped power the Vegas Golden Knights into the postseason, but he’ll miss playoff games because of his undisclosed injury.
As the Flyers’ situation with Patrick thickens, Fletcher would be wise to have a shortlist of other options.
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