The Philadelphia Flyers suffer from a version of option paralysis. In this version, options are more limited than ever. Before the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, the Flyers must optimize their protection lists to take minimal damage. At the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Philadelphia needs to weigh the option of trading a package of assets for a top-pair defenseman or selecting a top prospect forward in the first round. They also need to figure out what they want with Nolan Patrick, whether that means giving him the option for trade or another prove-it contract.
Chuck Fletcher is under pressure to alleviate cap space through the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Other teams know that, but only the Seattle Kraken matter. If Ron Francis decides to select Robert Hagg or Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Fletcher must include a large contract in a deal. Without that $7mil-$8.25mil open, the Flyers no longer have a chance to regroup this offseason.
Gaining leverage would be beneficial for Philadelphia. They don’t have pull in most negotiations. Patrick has clear potential but is a hard sell due to his inconsistencies.
Trading Patrick means Fletcher should find other players who’ve expressed their interest in a trade. Patrick likely wants a change of scenery back to his roots in Canada.
The Flyers have a chance to strike a deal with the Edmonton Oilers.
Puljujarvi Requests A Trade
Two years ago, Jesse Puljujarvi wanted a trade from the Edmonton Oilers. Similar to Nolan Patrick, he was at the crossroads with his franchise. Both players are former top-five overall picks of their respective draft classes. Puljujarvi hasn’t met the ceiling Patrick has set. One plays on the top line with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, while the other hasn’t been a top-line forward.
Sending Patrick to the Oilers helps with position depth following the failure of the Kyle Turris project. Edmonton could pay just a little over $1mil for Patrick and right the ship. Every trade is a gamble, but Patrick fixes a lack of center depth with the versatility to play right-wing. With a complete offseason, Patrick could be a legitimate top-six forward at either position.
Neither teams sacrifice size. Puljujarvi is only two inches taller, but Patrick has him by two pounds. Numerically, physically, and financially, this is an even agreement between two franchises.
How much do these players want a trade? Have these rash decisions from Puljujarvi and Patrick simmered down?
Without question, Puljujarvi is attractive due to recency bias, but Patrick is more lethal when he finds his form.
A Right Hand Cannon
Two weeks ago, Jim Matheson reported the Edmonton Oilers might want a right-handed center. Six centers on the current Oilers lineup are left-handed. Changing the point of perspective for opposing goaltenders means more goals. Imagine more goals in Edmonton, including consistent contributions from Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nolan Patrick fits as a right-handed center.
Not present on the top-line with the Philadelphia Flyers, Patrick accounted for thirteen goals in each of his first two seasons under Dave Hakstol. How much does Ken Holland want a right-handed shooting center? Patrick is a low-risk, high-reward trade target. Fletcher won’t let go without making a deal.
Adding Patrick makes him a middle-six center, topping out on the second line. Making a trade for Jesse Puljujarvi allows the Oilers to flex how deep they are on the right side. Patrick could be a top-six center or right-wing.
If you’re wondering where Puljujarvi would land on the 2020-2021 Flyers lineup, he would be a bottom-six right wing. He plays on the top line with two players who control the majority of the scoring in Edmonton.
Patrick scored nine points in 2020-2021 on a line with a recovering Oskar Lindblom and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Put Patrick on a line with Draisaitl and McDavid in 2020-2021, and I bet he doesn’t flop as the stats show.
Would trading Nolan Patrick for Jesse Puljujarvi trade make sense?
Currently, there are more questions than answers. Nolan Patrick missed a year of hockey due to migraines and didn’t look swell in his return. Jesse Puljujarvi spent time with Karpat before returning to the NHL, not missing any competitive hockey. There are a few metrics to take a peek at according to career averages per an 82-game-season.
Between the two, Patrick is the better overall playmaker. If the Edmonton Oilers dare to put him on the top line with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, the explosive offense will produce even more. Patrick averages more assists and total points than Puljujarvi in an 82-game-season.
Puljujarvi is only marginally better than Patrick via “thru-percentage” (the metric to measure how many shots reach the goaltender; 58.3% > 56.9%) and is more physical.
Defensively, Patrick measures greater than Puljujarvi. Compare puck control metrics that show more inconsistencies from Puljujarvi. On average, Patrick will force more takeaways and give the puck away less often. There’s a bonus that Patrick provides, too. He’s well-versed in the faceoff circle, which extends possessions for Draisaitl and McDavid.
As the NHL ventures back to normal circumstances, this trade appeals to the Oilers. Ken Holland may miss a bargain if he cannot get past recency bias.
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire