The Philadelphia Flyers have made the playoffs just twice since 2016, and their poor drafting has greatly limited their success.
The Philadelphia Flyers have the seventh overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft as well as the 22nd, but if recent history says anything, it’s that the Flyers are not guaranteed to draft an impact player. As the Flyers have fully committed to a rebuild, it is crucial that Daniel Briere and the rest of the Flyers front office get their top draft picks right this year. Briere, a first-time general manager, has wasted no time clearing house in his inaugural offseason. Ivan Provorov was the first man out the door, and embattled veterans Kevin Hayes and Tony DeAngelo don’t seem to be too far behind him. It remains to be seen whether or not some of the others, like Travis Sanheim and Carter Hart, depart the City of Brotherly Love.
As it turns out, Nolan Patrick ended up winning a Stanley Cup before the Philadelphia Flyers did. Patrick was supposed to be an integral part of the Flyers’ rebuild, but chronic migraines and head injuries squashed any hope he might have had of becoming star in the NHL. Drafted second overall by the Flyers in the 2017 NHL Draft, Patrick played in 197 games for the Flyers before heading to the Vegas Golden Knights by way of the Nashville Predators. Patrick had two solid 30-point seasons as a 19 and 20 year old in 2017-18 and 2018-19, but bottomed out to a nine-point 2019-20 season as he battled with his migraine condition and other injuries. Patrick played just 25 games with the Golden Knights in the 2021-22 season, and missed the entirety of the 2022-23 season.
Philadelphia Flyers fans might be familiar with the story that exiled general manager Chuck Fletcher ignored the advice of his scouts and chose Nolan Patrick over Cale Makar. While the decision was fairly reasonable, Patrick’s injury concerns were a major red flag even before his time in the NHL, and was one of the deciding factors in the New Jersey Devils drafting Nico Hischier first overall. Makar, of course, has already won a Stanley Cup, a Norris Trophy, and a Conn Smythe Trophy whilst having more points than games played as a defenseman. Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen and Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens centers Elias Pettersson and Nick Suzuki have all developed into All-Star caliber NHL players and were drafted after Patrick.
Nolan Patrick might be the biggest ‘what-if’ in all of the recent NHL drafts; the 6’2″ center was a star talent who often showed signs of becoming a great two-way player. Patrick was always a net-positive possession player, had the size and skill to score from anywhere, was a good faceoff taker, and had the hockey IQ to regularly produce takeaways for his team. Patrick is still young, though, and will turn 25 in September. If he gets healthy to the point of being able to return to the ice, it’s unclear whether or not Patrick will get a chance to make an NHL team or not. Patrick’s condition does not appear to have had any updates since it was announced in September that he would miss the season. Patrick is a restricted free agent this summer and is arbitration-eligible, but it’s unclear whether or not the Vegas Golden Knights have plans to bring him back in any capacity. If Patrick wants to resume his playing career, it may have to be on an AHL tryout or overseas.