Philadelphia Flyers: Can Nolan Patrick live up to his new contract?

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Nolan Patrick is no longer a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

I know that’s basically common knowledge at this point, as Patrick was shipped out alongside Philippe Myers in a three-team deal that secured Philly the services of Ryan Ellis months ago, but it’s still pretty darn incredible to think back on how his situation turned out not four years after making his way to the City of Brotherly Love by way of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Patrick was supposed to be the future. He was an incredibly well-graded recruit with a flashy offensive game only overshadowed by future New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier, and came with an incredibly strong hockey pedigree, as both his father Steve Patrick, and uncle, James Patrick, played in the NHL.

And yet, fast forward a few years into the future, and Patrick is unquestionably the worst player selected in the top five of the 2017 NHL Draft, as Hischier, Miro Heiskanen, Elias Pettersson, and Cale Makar have all proven more valuable contributors to the teams that drafted them.

*sigh* could you imagine Cale Makar in a Flyers uniform? His presence certainly would have alleviated any need for Chuck Fletcher to trade for Rasmus Ristolainen, that’s for sure.

But hey, that’s no longer our concern. Patrick is now a member of the Vegas Golden Knights, and on his 23 birthday, the two parties came together and agreed to a new two-year deal worth $2.4 million overall that will run through the 2022-23 NHL season.

Can Patrick live up to an AAV of $1.2 million? Well, let’s take a look and find out.

Patrick isn’t the same player who debuted for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2017.

There are 597 players in the NHL who are signed to contracts worth more than Nolan Patrick’s $1.2 AAV.

Some of them are good, some of them are bad. Some are really young, while others are ancient, and some, like former New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider, aren’t even still on the team that’s paying him.

Of the four players currently signed to contracts with an AAV of $1.2 million – Patrick, Joshua Brown, Jacob Larsson, and Frederick Gaudreau – Patrick is the youngest by well over a year. He’s appeared in the most games of any of the four, has logged the most points by a pretty significant margin, and, unsurprisingly, is the highest drafted player in the group.

So, you may ask, why did Patrick’s camp agree to such a team-friendly deal when he, at least statistically speaking, probably deserves much more money?

Easy: Patrick isn’t the same prospect in 2021 as he was in 2017.

At the end of the 2018-19 NHL season, Patrick looked like a certified star in the making. Sure, his game had its flaws, but he could shooter, he could score, he could pass, and he wasn’t horrid on defense. If he could sure up his turnover issues and get a tad more consistent, there was little reason to believe the Winnipeg, Manitoba native would have to worry about playing anywhere but with the Philadelphia Flyers anytime soon.

I mean, the NHL doesn’t just name anyone the top breakout star in the league, after all.

But then, the wheels came off in a big way.

As Flyers fans already know, Patrick missed the entire 2019-20 season with migraine disorder. While he did eventually return to the ice in 2020-21, Patrick, by his own admission, avoided contact whenever possible and no longer played with the fire that once made him so compelling. His numbers were down across the board, and the conversation about just how much Patrick was worth in restricted free agency became a point of contention among the fanbase.

Fortunately, that’s no longer Philly’s problem.

Next. Pair Cam Atkinson with Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee. dark

If Nolan Patrick can recapture his fire and play like he did from 2017-19, the Vegas Golden Knights may find themselves the proud owners of the best-value contract in the NHL. If not, $1.2 million only accounts for roughly 1.5 percent of the NHL salary cap, so it’s not a huge deal for a third-line center with offensive upside. Fortunately, the Philadelphia Flyers won’t have to be the team that gives him the minutes on ice to work through those growing pains in the pursuit of recapturing his former greatness.