Nolan Patrick remains a huge unknown for the Philadelphia Flyers

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

The former number two overall pick could be a huge addition from within for the Philadelphia Flyers.

After missing the entirety of last season which included training camp, the regular season, and the postseason, Nolan Patrick‘s future not only as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, but as a professional hockey player is a complete mystery.

Entering the NHL as the number two overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, naturally expectations were incredibly high for the young forward from Winnipeg. At just 19 years of age at the start of his rookie year, Patrick put together back to back respectable seasons for a young player mostly playing in the bottom six forward group. The 2017-2018 season saw Nolan post 30 points (13 goals 17 assists) across 73 games. The following year he was able to improve those numbers slightly, posting 31 points (13 goals 18 assists) in 72 games.

As already mentioned, this past season Patrick entered with high expectations, however suffering from a migraine disorder, he was forced the miss the entirety of the season. Throughout the year, there were different times were cautious optimism was shown from the front office; however, it was pretty much expected once he missed a significant amount of time, that the team would be in no rush to hurry such a young player back as he suffered with a head injury.

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Head injuries like this are no stranger to the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Back in the 1990’s the city and the franchise watched it completely derail the career of one of the most skilled players in franchise history in Eric Lindros. Two separate times in the 2000’s the team watched it derail the careers of two other captains of their franchise in Keith Primeau and Chris Pronger.

Of course, we are in a different time of modern medicine where a lot more is known about head injuries and how they impact us as human beings, let alone as professional athletes. Now we are in a time where these things are taking incredibly seriously (as they should be,) especially with a guy in his early twenties like Patrick.

Heading into this upcoming season, the status of Patrick returning with the Philadelphia Flyers remains a bit of a mystery. While it is incredibly encouraging that he has begun to partake in scrimmages with other players, including one led by former Flyer Ryan White; returning and playing in the NHL is a completely different ballgame. I don’t want to state the obvious, but head injuries are incredibly tricky and hard to predict. One day you can be feeling fantastic, while the next you can really feel the effects. The most important thing is the health and safety of Nolan Patrick.

In terms of hockey, if Patrick is able to make a full return and continue to develop his game, it would be an incredible boost for the orange and black. It would fill a huge void on their third line, and would equip the Flyers with their top three lines all being able to score consistently; which is incredibly important in today’s NHL.

The Philadelphia Flyers did extend a qualifying offer to ensure they would retain the rights to Patrick, and rather surprisingly (or was it?) Nolan Patrick accepted the one year qualifying offer, essentially appearing to look to re-establish his value. He will play (hopefully) the 2020-2021 season with a cap hit of $874,000 dollars.

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At this time, all of this remains completely up in the air. As a human being, I continue to hope and pray that Nolan Patrick can regain his full health just to be able to live and enjoy his life with his family and loved ones. In terms of hockey, I would love to see him return to the ice, as I do believe he possesses the talent to be a game changer for the Flyers. While we do not know what the future holds, let’s hope we get to see number 19 return to the ice for the Philadelphia Flyers in the near future.