A Healthy Nolan Patrick Makes the Philadelphia Flyers Better
Sometimes bad things happen. In the moment they are horrible, but often times they lead to new opportunities, self-growth or an appreciation for things that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. While Nolan Patrick had to be living through his own personal hell last season, the Flyers team was able to grow and succeed in his absence.
Patrick, who missed every game last season with a migraine disorder, could only focus on healing. The Flyers were able to forge an identity with out him. With Patrick out of the line up the players and staff were forced to move on and find ways for the team to win with out the former 2nd overall pick.
Without Patrick, the team continued to see Sean Couturier as the team’s best player. Kevin Hayes was able to cement himself as the team’s 2C and a vital piece in the Flyers’ success. Scott Laughton was able to set a new career high in goals as he got more offensive opportunities. Travis Konecny became the team’s top scorer and Carter Hart became an unquestioned NHL starting goalie. The Flyers made the playoffs and won the opening round against Montreal, the team that dispatched the Penguins, all without Patrick.
This season Patrick, who signed his qualifying offer, seems eager to get back to the ice. Signing the qualifying offer was a risk hedge, keeping him paid in the event he can’t make it back on the ice. A healthy and focused Patrick would be a welcomed addition to the lineup and I am not sure that we ever have seen that version of Patrick.
Remember that Patrick had a second abdominal surgery right before the draft and may not have been fully healed during his rookie campaign. In his second season Patrick suffered a concussion. While he did suit up again that season, there is speculation that he was never quite well. Could this have been the onset of his migraine disorder?
A healthy Patrick would not ”fix” any of the Flyers major issues, namely a top pair RHD and a certified sniper, but rather enhances the team’s strengths. In other words, I would not expect Patrick to become a 50-goal scorer, but Patrick would give the team even more scoring depth, and another possible creator on the powerplay. In an offense by committee team, the goal is to defeat the opponent by a thousand paper cuts, rather than by big games by big stars. These teams are less likely to go through prolonged offensive slumps because the chances of the majority of the team going cold at once is slim.