Nolan Patrick was taken by the Flyers with the second pick in the 2017 NHL Draft as Philly continues to add more young talent to its roster. Patrick was one of two players in this year’s draft regarded as the clear top prospects, along with center Nico Hischier, who was taken with the first overall pick by the New Jersey Devils.
There really was little separating the two centers in most experts’ eyes, as many mock drafts had the Devils taking Hischier and the Flyers nabbing Patrick, while just as many — including NHL.com, for whatever that’s worth — had Hischier falling to Philly. What was clear, however, is how much better these two kids are as compared to the rest of the draft field. That’s not to suggest Patrick and Hischier are the second-coming of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, taken 1-2 in the 2004 draft, or perhaps even when this season’s Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid was taken first overall, just ahead of Jack Eichel, in the 2015 draft. These two may not be there, but they are clearly better than the rest.
Here’s what you need to know about the newest Flyers’ center.
NHL’s No. 1 prospect
Patrick is listed by the NHL as 6-2, 198 pounds, a full 20 pounds more than Hischier. He was rated as the No. 1 overall prospect by the NHL Central Scouting department. He also earned the Top Prospect Award, given to the best draft-eligible player in the Canadian Hockey League.
The Hockey News said Patrick has, “the size, the NHL pedigree and the two-way game that will make him a pro right away. When healthy, he’s the total package.”
That’s the issue: When he’s healthy.
Patrick played just 33 games for the Brandon Wheat Kings last season after 72 in 2015-16. He netted 20 goals and 26 assists for Brandon, recording a plus-9 on the season. The year before, the Winnipeg native had 102 points on 41 goals and 61 assists in 72 games for the Wheat Kings.
He missed much of last season in the youth ranks thanks to a misdiagnosed sports hernia. He had surgery on his right groin last summer, but an injury on the left side went undiagnosed, sidelining him during much of the season.
He wants to play right away
The kid isn’t even fully healed yet, but told teams at the NHL Combine that he’d be both healthy and ready to go when training camp opens in September. Even though he’s just 18 years old, he has no interest in starting his career in the minors.
“After a summer of training and getting bigger, stronger, faster and more healthy, [the NHL is] the goal for me,” he said. “I don’t set too many goals for myself, but that’s been one I’ve had for three years and I feel confident in my abilities that I can make the jump.”
A hockey pedigree
Patrick’s dad Steve and two of his uncles — James Patrick and Rich Chernomaz — all played in the NHL. Steve Patrick played 250 games as a right winger, scoring 40 goals and adding 68 assists over six seasons. James Patrick played 1,280 games as a defenseman for four teams, including 11 years with the Rangers. He had 149 goals and 490 assists, and was a career plus-104. Chernomaz played seven seasons in the pros, but just 51 games over that span.
Patrick’s granddad played in the Canadian Football League and his mom, Carrie, played on the Canadian national volleyball team.
IG and Twitter
Look, let’s be clear, in the grand scheme of things how the guy acts on Twitter and Facebook doesn’t matter if he’s lighting the lamp for 10 years. But if he’s going to become a star in Philly, he should start looking at what some of the other young players in town do online. Joel Embiid. Carson Wentz. Ben Simmons. They rule social media in Philly sports, and it’s endeared them to the fans as much as, or in the Sixers’ case more than, their talent.
Patrick doesn’t seem too active on Twitter, only tweeting to promote a show he was on or congratulate his friends. Or retweet about the Mayweather-McGreggor fight. He only has 3,349 followers, which seems okay for an 18 year-old kid, but not great for the second pick in the NHL Draft.
He has way more followers on Instagram, but he’s only posted 12 photos. So get on that, man. You’re a star now.