Flyers’ Season in Review: Nolan Patrick

As the Philadelphia Flyers entered the 2020-21 season, there were high hopes for Nolan Patrick’s return. The 22-year-old center missed last season because of severe migraine issues that prevented him from playing. Patrick put up 30 points in his first two seasons with the team, but as the second-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, fans have wanted more.

Before his NHL debut on Oct. 10, 2017, Patrick was tearing up the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Brandon Wheat Kings. During the 2015-16 season, he tallied102 points in 72 games and was named WHL Playoff MVP. In his last season with the Wheat Kings, the Winnipeg native finished with 46 points in 33 games and was named 59th captain in franchise history. His career in the WHL was a positive sign for his future with the Flyers.

A Struggling Team

The Flyers rode the struggle bus this season and few players stood out. Although the team didn’t help Patrick have a noticeable comeback campaign, there is still work to be done. In 52 games, he notched nine points, substantially lower than his career average.

Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings, NHL Entry Draft, WHL
Patrick helped the Wheat Kings to the WHL Championship in his only full season with Brandon. (courtesy Brandon Wheat Kings)

In his exit interview, Patrick admitted that he has an important offseason ahead of him. “It’ll be the most important offseason of my life for sure. The last couple years were tough, so I’m looking forward to having a healthy summer training.” He is still a work in progress, but not a player to write off yet. A Flyers team that lacked motivation, chemistry, and balance is the worst environment for a growing young player to flourish.

Change of Scenery

On May 13, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that Patrick had signed with his third agent in three years, which could mean a new start for the center who has had trouble fitting into the lineup. Considering the rising stars on the Flyers like Wade Allison and Joel Farabee, it’s uncertain whether Patrick will have a roster spot next season, and he might decide a change of scenery would be better for his career.

Despite his lack of production, a new team might help Patrich thrive. If the Flyers choose not to protect him ahead of the expansion draft, a fresh start with the Seattle Kraken could be just what the young forward needs. Whether it’s a new city or a new contract with the Flyers, a big change is in store for Patrick this offseason.

A Work in Progress

Despite high expectations, the circumstances of his young career haven’t worked in Nolan’s favor. Health issues and two seasons affected by COVID-19, including no training camp, aren’t a recipe for success. When asked how difficult it was to deal with all of this, Patrick answered, “It was really hard, it felt l came in behind the 8-ball for sure, and I was struggling to find my game. I clearly didn’t adjust great and get back to the top of my came quick, and it showed.” He has no shame in admitting that he didn’t perform to his own standards despite the circumstances.

Nolan Patrick Philadelphia Flyers
Nolan Patrick, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Yet, Patrick is still a young player finding his footing, and he hasn’t been given much of a chance to perform beyond his sophomore season. As he takes the summer to regroup, train, and perfect his skills, he needs to put his past struggles behind him and look to prove himself next season. He has a lot motivating him to become the best possible version of himself, and he should have a bright future.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux noted how special Patrick is, saying, “I’m a huge fan of Patty. He’s got all the skillset, big body, he competes every night. That’s a guy you want to go to battle with. For me, personally, with Patty, I’m very excited to see him play and come to camp next year.” At least the captain would like to see the youngster return to the orange and black next season.