The Philadelphia Flyers must have felt pretty good after the 2017 NHL Draft. They had the No. 2 and No. 27 overall picks and wound up drafting nine players in the seven rounds. With the No. 2 pick, the Flyers selected Nolan Patrick after the New Jersey Devils drafted Nico Hischier first overall. NHL analysts expected both players to become future NHL stars.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite turned out that way, at least not for the Flyers.
Though there was much debate as to which player should be selected first, it is clear that Hischier has so far been the right choice. In their first two seasons, Hischier had 99 points while Patrick had 61. To make matters worse, Patrick’s injury history, which plagued him in the Western Hockey League, appears to have caught up with him in the NHL.
Patrick suffered a concussion in his rookie season and was then diagnosed with a migraine disorder last September. Because of this impairment, Patrick is yet to play a game this season.
Still, it is far too early to assign poor marks to the Flyers’ 2017 draft. The two main reasons are that the jury is still out on Patrick and some of the Flyers’ other draft picks have shown promise.
Patrick Still Has Potential
Sure, Patrick’s stats have not been as impressive as Hischier’s; however, Patrick has still had a couple of decent seasons in the NHL. In his rookie season, Patrick registered 13 goals and 17 assists, while he added another 13 goals and 18 assists in his sophomore season.
Not every future NHL star will score 40 goals in their rookie season as Auston Matthews did. And not every future NHL star will record 70 assists in their sophomore season as Connor McDavid did. Ultimately, Patrick is just 21 years old and has plenty of time to develop into the NHL star who the Flyers envisioned when they drafted him.
In order to reach his full potential, Patrick will need to get healthy and avoid further injury. If there is one positive about the NHL’s hiatus, it is that injured players now have extra time to heal without having to miss any more of their teams’ games.
As of last month, Patrick still believed that he would return to action this season. Now, with the NHL potentially not resuming play until late spring, he has an even better chance to suit up for the Flyers this season.
Regardless of whether this happens, once Patrick gets healthy and the NHL resumes play, he will hopefully prove that he is a key part of the Flyers’ future.
Frost Rising Through the Ranks
You probably would have laughed if someone had told you in June 2017 that the Flyers would get more out of their No. 27 pick than they would out of their No. 2 pick. Nonetheless, this is now a possibility due to the success of Morgan Frost and the uncertain future of Nolan Patrick.
The Flyers took Frost after they acquired the No. 27 pick from the St. Louis Blues in the Brayden Schenn trade. Frost had just had a strong 2016-17 season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and showed a lot of promise.
After being drafted, Frost recorded back-to-back seasons in the OHL with at least 100 points. As such, coming into this season, he was regarded as one of the Flyers’ top prospects.
Thanks to his dominance in the OHL, Frost has gotten to play in the Flyers’ organization this season. He has split time between the American Hockey League (AHL) and the NHL.
Frost has had a strong 2019-20 season. In the AHL, he had 13 goals and 16 assists in 41 games. Meanwhile, he had two goals and five assists in seven NHL games.
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Frost has had two separate stints in the NHL. In his first one, he got to play on the Flyers’ top line alongside Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny. That helped him score goals in each of his first two games with the Flyers.
Frost returned to the AHL in December and continued to play well there. He was then recalled to the Flyers in February after Joel Farabee got injured. Frost only played in two Flyer games before Farabee returned. Without room in the lineup for Frost, the Flyers returned him to the AHL.
Still, Frost is a top prospect for the Flyers, and will definitely get another shot in the NHL. Following some inevitable roster changes this summer, he may even make it onto next year’s team out of training camp. There is definitely a lot to be excited about Morgan Frost.
The Other Guys
In addition to selecting Patrick and Frost, the Flyers drafted seven other players in 2017.
None of these other draft picks played in the NHL this season; however, some of them had strong seasons in their respective leagues.
Unfortunately, the biggest disappointment here has to be Isaac Ratcliffe. During the 2017 NHL Draft, the Flyers sent three picks to the Arizona Coyotes to acquire the 35th overall draft selection. They used this pick to select Ratcliffe. Despite dominating in the OHL, Ratcliffe has failed to achieve much success this season at the next level in the AHL.
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Regardless, other prospects like Kirill Ustimenko, Matthew Strome, Noah Cates, and Wyatt Kalynuk have had solid seasons in their respective leagues.
Strome is an intriguing prospect, as he comes from a hockey pedigree. Older brothers Ryan and Dylan have both achieved success in the NHL – hopefully Matthew will follow suit.
While none of these draft picks have made it to the NHL yet, they still have plenty of time to develop into NHL talents. The oldest is just 22 years old.
Ultimately, the Flyers may not have received instant gratification from their 2017 draft. Nonetheless, they have already seen flashes of potential from Patrick and Frost in the NHL, and they have some solid prospects coming up the pipeline. Therefore, the Flyers just need to be a little patient.