After experiencing a lack of growth in the 2018-2019 season, Patrick missed what could’ve been a key 2019-2020 season due to a migraine disorder. Considering that he had not played at the professional level for over a year, expecting the Patrick that we were “promised by the draft”—as some people like to say—is a bit of a lofty expectation.
Just from keeping an eye on him while he’s on the ice, there’s obvious room for improvement, but his overall play isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. Statistically speaking, Nolan isn’t really any much better or much worse than he was in 2018.
Patrick ended the 2018 regular season with a +/- of -8. He’s currently sitting with a +/- of -6. Not much of an improvement, but it’s slightly better. When it comes to faceoffs, it’s as if his missed year didn’t change a thing. So far, he’s been able to win 51.83% of faceoffs, and if he’s able to keep it there, this season will hold the best faceoff percentage in his NHL career thus far.
Patrick is also trailing with shots on goal, with only 20 so far this season. In his debut year, he had a total of 127 shots on goal, and in his sophomore year, 115. Unless something seriously changes, he doesn’t seem to be on track to hit these numbers. He’s currently at two goals and three assists for the season, and if he continues to shoot the puck, he may be able to reach lucky number 13—in both his debut season and sophomore season, he had ended the regular season with a total of 13 goals.
The Flyers seem to be struggling with turnovers. Patrick has only created eight turnovers, while having five takeaways, leading to a -3 differential. Compared to other centermen, Kevin Hayes is currently sitting at -13, while Scott Laughton is sitting at +6. When compared to the entire team, Ivan Provorov is currently sitting at -22 while Laughton is top of the team in that category. Both Phil Myers and Claude Giroux are matching Patrick with the -3 differential.
In an ideal world, Nolan Patrick wouldn’t have needed to take a year off to work on migraine management, but as we all know, this is what needed to happen for his own good. Back in February, Alain Vigneault spoke about patience regarding Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom’s play. The chances that Vigneault would play these men without seeing a benefit to the team seem low.
Vigneault may have pulled Patrick from center and sent him to the wing, but if anything, it seems to have benefitted him. His shots on goal have increased, as well as the number of hits he’s landed. Many were surprised to see him sent out for the shootout on March 9th against the Buffalo Sabres, but he landed a beauty that sealed the deal and got them the second point that they desperately needed. It’s obvious that his hockey IQ and skills are still there.
His confidence is coming back and we’re getting plenty of glimpses of his potential. It should be expected that the 22-year-old centerman has a future ahead of him so long as he keeps playing and putting in the effort.
Maybe Nolan should keep walking backward as a pre-game ritual?