Flyers have really felt Nolan Patrick’s absence

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

In a season where they could desperately have used him, the Philadelphia Flyers still haven’t been able to replace what they were expecting third-year center Nolan Patrick to bring to the table.

This has been a trying season for the Philadelphia Flyers, even as they remain in the thick of the playoff race, most notably because of the Ewing’s sarcoma diagnosis given to Oskar Lindblom.

But even though we are starting to get accustomed to the team being without him, it’s hard to overstate the impact of Nolan Patrick‘s absence in the wake of the migraine disorder that he has been dealing with for several months.

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It’s actually a condition that has affected Patrick in the past, only getting severe enough over the offseason to lead him to finally seek more in-depth medical treatment for it. It’s truly been a big loss for the Flyers, who were expecting a “leap” kind of season from the young man that they drafted second overall in 2017 and had such high hopes for just a short while ago.

Now, Patrick’s future, both for the remainder of this season and in his long-term ability to play at the NHL level, is clouded. Migraines, which seem so commonplace and not like an affliction that could derail a professional athlete, are no laughing matter in the chronic form currently being suffered by Patrick.

It all adds up to a bitterly disappointing situation for player and team alike. For someone to work hard enough to achieve his dream of playing in the NHL only to have it taken away after two short years would be tragic. And for the team that was expecting such big things from him, it would be a crushing blow.

That isn’t to say that Patrick can be written off, either for good or even for this season, though his likelihood of returning over the next few months seems to lessen by the day. Instead, it’s just a way to deal with a possible worst-case scenario, and a Flyers future without such a promising young man.

As with Lindblom and other athletes who have dealt with serious afflictions, the most important thing is for the player to get back to normalcy in everyday life. Then, hopefully, the baby steps can be taken until they are able to return to form.

In Patrick’s particular case, he is sorely missed. For a Flyers team looking to re-establish itself this year under a new regime, he was to be a high-end #3 center behind Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes. Maybe the Flyers asked too much of him in his first two years, something that they were set to correct this year by sheltering him in such a role.

In time, Patrick was expected to be a solid #2 pivot. With some luck, maybe even having top-line potential. The sky looked like it could be the limit after some of the flashes he showed, however brief, during his first couple seasons.

Instead, the Flyers have had to play mix-and-match with several different #3 centers this year, with a trickle-down effect reaching the fourth line. You can never fully plan for injuries; you can only hope to weather them. In this case, with Patrick missing half a season and counting, it’s been extremely difficult to replace what he was expected to bring.

GM Chuck Fletcher is supposed to give an update on Patrick soon. One can only hope that progress has been made and the door left open for a return this season. Even if not, we should all be crossing our fingers for a good long-term prognosis for a player that the Flyers can ill afford to lose.

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Even though Patrick’s NHL numbers so far have not been indicative of a player who was taken second overall in his draft year, he remains just 21 years old and has to be a big part of this franchise going forward. Any situation where he can’t fulfill his promise would be a huge long-term hit to the Flyers’ prospects of success.