Someone call PETA, because this horse has been beaten to death. In all seriousness, there’s a million different ways to interpret what’s happening with Nolan Patrick right now. Does he not care? Is he just not good anymore? Why isn’t he as good as we wanted him to be? Some fair, others not, all questions that won’t stop until we find answers. Those answers may never come, but one thing that will likely remain is the negativity.
Hell apparently hath no fury like the scorn of a Flyers fan when the name Nolan Patrick is mentioned. You see it everywhere. Twitter is no stranger to the negative speak about Nolan. Facebook is notorious for negativity. There’s no shortage there either. Everything surrounding Patrick just seems to be so negative, it’s exhausting. Coming from someone who isn’t the happiest about the situation as it is, it’s still frustrating dealing with such negativity. While we fan the flames, we also need to understand where this negativity comes from.
Do people just enjoy being contrarians? While supporting Nolan Patrick may not be the popular thing to do , there’s no shortage of it from a small sect on social media. Maybe it’s those people that bring out the negative nancy’s in all of us. While you won’t be able to convince everyone to side with you in your disdain for Nolan Patrick, what’s the harm in trying, I guess? Let’s take a more logical approach. Let’s dive into the reasons why such negativity surrounds the Flyers 2017 first-round selection.
The Nolan Patrick pick went against the grain
We’ve all heard the story. Ron Hextall apparently chose to ignore the advice of his scouts when making the Nolan Patrick selection in 2017. While it’s hard to argue the pick itself if you discount hindsight, the fact remains that the scouts recommended other selections over Patrick. Pair that with the fact that Ron Hextall has fallen out of favor with the Philadelphia faithful, and you have a feeling of resentment that’s absolutely warranted.
To many, Patrick was the consensus number one pick in 2017. To others, it was either him or Nico Hischier. Either way, the Flyers were getting a pretty solid prospect at number two. Injuries assuredly played a part in Patrick not going first overall, but they apparently weren’t of much concern to then-general manager Ron Hextall. Quite honestly, it was the only pick to make. He was the unanimous choice to make. Had Hextall not made the pick, he would have been chastised to no end about it. Looking back at it now though, it’s absolutely fair to criticize the pick.
That 20/20 Hindsight
The gift of hindsight has left the most bitter taste in the mouths of the Nolan Patrick detractors. Had Hextall chosen anyone but Patrick with the second overall selection in 2017, he would have been laughed out of town. Initially. Looking back at it now, he got laughed out of town for drafting Patrick at second overall in 2017, among a plethora of other things.
Just taking a look at the three picks that immediately followed Philadelphia’s, you have Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, and Elias Pettersson. Three names who have contributed in big ways to their respective teams in just four years. While the rest of the draft appears to be a bit more shallow than in years past, the fact remains that difference makers were on the board for the Flyers, and they balked.
If they wanted to go defense, like suggested in Anthony SanFilippo’s article linked above, Makar and Heiskanen were available. If they wanted to stick to the center position, Pettersson was available. Again, it’s easy to say this with the benefit of knowing how things panned out. It’s another thing to say this with knowledge of Hextall’s scouts pining for players not named Nolan Patrick.
Nolan Patrick will forever be compared to…
With the second overall pick in any draft, you’re all-but guaranteed a difference maker right off the bat. With Nolan Patrick, it didn’t look much different until this season. He posted 61 points in his first two seasons before posting nine this past season alone. Nine points isn’t exactly what you expect from a second overall pick.
You look at prior second overall selections before Patrick, and there isn’t one individual that you wouldn’t take over Nolan Patrick at this point. Patrik Laine, check. Jack Eichel, check and check. Aleksander Barkov, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyler Seguin, Victor Hedman, and Drew Doughty? Yes please. Even names like Sam Reinhart and Ryan Murray are worth more to this team right now than Nolan Patrick and his nine points.
Just for *blank*’s and giggles, let’s take a look at some of the drafts after 2017. In 2018, Andrei Svechnikov was taken second overall by the Carolina Hurricanes. He has 140 points in 205 career games. 2019’s second overall selection was Kaapo Kakko. He currently has 40 points in 114 career NHL games. Let’s dive into Nolan Patrick’s numbers here.
Nolan Patrick currently sits at 70 points in 197 games. For those who can’t reach for their calculators, that’s .36 points per game. Kakko is right behind him with .35 points per game, while Svechnikov is sitting at .68 points per game, almost as much as Patrick and Kakko combined.
There’s much left to be desired from Nolan Patrick’s play. Taking a look at some of the previous number two overall selections makes that abundantly clear.
This may be the most frustrating element to this discussion. While a trade hasn’t happened yet, this fanbase knows enough to understand the potential implications of these deals. Brayden Schenn, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Jeff Carter, and Mike Richards. What do they all have in common? They’ve all won a Stanley Cup since being traded by the Flyers.
So what? Five guys were traded and won cups. That’s all well and good, but the list just starts with those five names. Believe it or not, there’s an article out there that built a full starting lineup full of players who the Flyers traded that went on to win a Stanley Cup after the Flyers sent them packing. Thank you Mark Zimmaro for reminding us all that the Flyers are jaded beyond belief when it comes to this.
The worst part is that this type of behavior isn’t just limited to one regime. Rod Brind’Amour, Rick Tocchet, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Sharp, Justin Williams, Shjon Podein, they all went on to win a Stanley Cup after the Flyers traded them away. It spans multiple decades. It’s a trend that scares the living hell out of us, but more so because we’ve seen it happen way too frequently and way too soon.
The risk involved in trading Nolan Patrick includes this. God forbid the Nolan Patrick anti-fans have to watch him hoist Lord Stanley before any of the current Flyers. Philadelphia may just implode if that happens.
So why all the negativity, you ask? Read through this again and understand that this is something that’s been building. This didn’t just pop up overnight. This manifested over the course of a few years, but it’s been written on the wall for quite some time. The success of players drafted after Nolan Patrick in 2017. The success of former number two overall picks. The fact that had it not been for Ron Hextall being bullish, Nolan Patrick wouldn’t be a Flyer. So many things factor into the negativity surrounding Patrick. Fair or not, it’s understandable to say the least.