Should the Philadelphia Flyers Consider Reunion with Nolan Patrick?

Nolan Patrick with the Flyers in 2019. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Nolan Patrick with the Flyers in 2019. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Nolan Patrick is currently an unrestricted free agent after he wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer by the Vegas Golden Knights. Could the Philadelphia Flyers be Patrick’s last chance at the NHL?

Nolan Patrick’s last regular season NHL game was on March 24, 2022. The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Nashville Predators 6-1, and Patrick played just three shifts for a total ice time of 1:37. This year, without Nolan Patrick playing at all, the Golden Knights went on to win the Stanley Cup, handily defeating the Florida Panthers in five games.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 15: Nolan Patrick #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center on January 15, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Penguins 5-2. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Nolan Patrick reflecting on what would be his last season with the Flyers at exit interviews in 2021: I don’t really know. I didn’t play great for a lot of the year. I had some good moments but struggled with staying consistent. I think having a full offseason and full camp and hopefully back to normal next year, that’ll help. /

It’s ironic that Nolan Patrick’s last NHL game may have come at the hands of the Nashville Predators – a team he never played for after the Philadelphia Flyers dealt him and Philippe Myers for Ryan Ellis on July 17, 2021. Both Patrick and Ellis sat out the entirety of the 2022-23 season, and Myers spent most of his year with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.

After being sent to Nashville, Nolan Patrick was flipped to Vegas for Cody Glass, who was another underperforming top prospect. Glass enjoyed a semi-breakout season in 2022-23 when he scored 14 goals and 35 points in 72 games. Patrick didn’t play, of course, and scored only seven points in 25 games in the 2021-22 season.

Nolan Patrick will be just 25 by the time opening night rolls around for the 2023-24 season, but it’s still unclear whether the Flyers’ 2017 second overall pick will ever be healthy enough to play again. Patrick has played fewer and fewer games each year he’s been in the NHL, and bottomed out to zero this past season. Patrick has been plagued by a hereditary migraine disorder for most of his career, and has also dealt with a few concussions on top of that.

If Nolan Patrick wishes to resume his NHL playing career, he would almost assuredly have to do so on a tryout basis. There’s been complete radio silence on the status of Patrick’s health, and if he was truly healthy, it would be hard to imagine Patrick not getting any phone calls regarding a contract.

The Philadelphia Flyers, of course, have a perpetuating need for talent and youth at the center position, and could be willing to offer the ex-Brandon Wheat Kings talisman a professional tryout. Nolan Patrick is familiar with the organization and can expect to see at least a few familiar faces when he arrives. If Patrick and/or his doctors and team determine it would be adverse to his long-term health to continue playing, the Flyers could still offer him a role in the organization in a different capacity.

Samuel Morin has served as a development coach with the Philadelphia Flyers after injuries forced him to retire in 2022. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Samuel Morin has served as a development coach with the Philadelphia Flyers after injuries forced him to retire in 2022. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Nolan Patrick… the coach?

Samuel Morin, who was selected 11th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013, retired in 2022 after irreversible knee damage cut his playing days short. With his injuries severely inhibiting his ability to get around the ice, the 6’7″ defenseman-turned-enforcer had to make the Flyers as a fighter and nothing more. Morin played just 29 NHL games before his retirement, and scored his only NHL goal (and only NHL point) in his final season. It was a game-winner against Igor Shesterkin, of all people.

Since his retirement, Sam Morin has been serving as a development coach for the Philadelphia Flyers. Chuck Fletcher was the one who offered Morin the job, but according to the Flyers’ staff directory, Morin has reprised his role under the new management.

If Nolan Patrick’s playing days are truly over, it would be interesting to see whether Patrick or the Flyers would be willing to explore this avenue. Both Patrick and Sam Morin are young still, but Morin was a defenseman and Patrick is a forward. Chris Stewart, another development coach who played in the NHL, and briefly for the Flyers, was a forward as well.

Nolan Patrick in particular would offer unique perspective; although the embattled forward didn’t play in 2022-23, he played with most of the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup winning core the season prior. The Flyers have shown an emphasis on bringing a similar pedigree into the building this offseason, with the additions of players like Marc Staal and Garnet Hathaway. Staal, however, has come away empty-handed in all three of his Stanley Cup finals appearances.

Head Coach John Tortorella won a Cup eons ago, and Patrick Sharp won three during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks – one at the expense of the Philadelphia Flyers. Welcoming back Nolan Patrick as a Stanley Cup champion would provide some valuable hands-on experience to a young group of Flyers.

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