Nolan Patrick

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Flyers GM Fletcher expects Patrick to return from migraines

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VOORHEES, N.J. — Philadelphia Flyers general Chuck Fletcher expects center Nolan Patrick to return from a migraine disorder and play this season.

Patrick, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 draft, has been sidelined all season because of his condition. The 21-year-old Patrick has 26 goals and 61 points in two seasons with the Flyers. Fletcher said Patrick has been skating for longer and harder sessions and would likely need a conditioning stint in the AHL before he returned to the Flyers.

”I can just tell you from the on and off ice workouts he’s doing, he is progressing,” Fletcher said Tuesday. ”There certainly isn’t any clear path as to which way this will go.”

The Flyers remain unsure when Oskar Lindblom will play again and he undergoes treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around bones. The 23-year-old from Sweden had 11 goals and 18 points in 30 games this season. Lindblom has 30 goals in 134 career games over two-plus seasons with the Flyers.

”For him to return to play hockey means he’s in a great spot in his battle,” Fletcher said. ”We’re just keeping our hopes up. I’m sure he’s got a lot of things on his mind right now, but if he’s playing hockey this year, that would be a great conclusion.”

Lindblom has visited his Flyers teammates during practice and sat courtside at a recent 76ers game. Lindblom has yet to speak publicly since his early December diagnosis.

”With this situation like this, when it’s your personal health and a non-hockey thing, you always want to be a little bit careful what you say, but you know the treatments are going well and I know he’s got a great attitude,” Fletcher said. ”But it’s probably pretty early in the process to have that type of update. At some point, certainly, depending on what Oskar’s thoughts are, hopefully we can make that available.”

Flyers’ playoff hopes take a hit with Gostisbehere injury

Flyers Gostisbehere out three weeks
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If the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs began before Thursday’s games, the Philadelphia Flyers would make it. The Flyers face a challenge in maintaining their grip, and that hill got steeper with Shayne Gostisbehere sidelined.

The team announced that Gostisbehere is expected to miss about three weeks thanks to arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. (The actual procedure is set to take place on Tuesday.)

The Flyers defense already started 2020 on a down note, as Justin Braun could be out through the All-Star break as he deals with a groin injury. Combine those defense injuries to Oskar Lindblom‘s battle with cancer and Nolan Patrick‘s continued migraine issues and the losses start to pile up.

Philly nonetheless stands as the East’s final wild card team thanks to a 23-15-6 record (52 points in 44 games played). The Flyers hold at least a two-point edge over teams underneath them, which isn’t a huge buffer, but it certainly could be worse.

What Flyers lose in Gostisbehere

Look, there’s no denying that Gostisbehere’s seen a significant drop in production.

Clearly, Gostisbehere played a little over his head when he reached 65 points in 2017-18. Otherwise, “Ghost Bear” fell in the 37-46 point range during recent seasons.

Unfortunately, his defensive lapses become tougher to stomach when that offense dries up. And, boy, did it ever dry up this season.

Gostisbehere managed just 12 points in 40 games so far in 2019-20. You can’t really blame puck luck, either; five of his points are goals, and his on-ice shooting percentage actually increased from 2018-19. Gostisbehere’s ice time follows similar patterns. He set an average he may never match in 2017-18 (21:27 TOI per game), settled down last season (19:40) and hit a new low as a full-timer this season (18:21).

Those stats are troubling, and honestly, a little bewildering … but the Flyers will miss even a struggling Ghost.

Without Gostisbehere, Flyers may need to lean on inexperienced players

Gostisbehere averaged 2:36 of his 18:21 TOI on the power play, so that stands out as the first riddle Alain Vigneault must solve.

Judging by Left Wing Lock’s combos, Ghost’s loss could be Travis Sanheim‘s gain. Sanheim only averaged 27 seconds of his 19:52 minutes on the power play, so it will be interesting to see if he plays a bit less in other situations, or merely carries a heavier burden.

In pondering the impact of Gostisbehere’s loss, NBC Sports Philly’s Jordan Hall noted the defense’s inexperience:

Including Wednesday night’s contest, [Matt] Niskanen has played 924 career games, while the other five healthy blueliners have combined to play 692 games — Ivan Provorov at 290, Hagg 178, Travis Sanheim 175, Philippe Myers 47 and [Mark] Friedman two.

It could have been worse

Honestly, when I hear “knee surgery” of any kind, I expect an absence of more than three weeks (or so). Tip your cap to modern medicine, in this case.

The damage seems less severe when you consider mitigating factors like off time, too.

Of course, things are tight for the Flyers. They can’t merely shrug their shoulders at six games. All things considered, it could have been worse, though.

Also, if Gostisbehere has been slowed by a nagging knee issue, maybe he’ll bounce back? Expecting too big of a rebound in 2019-20 might be foolish, but … hey, modern medicine has come a long way.

This absence will test how far Sanheim, Vigneault, and other Flyers have come, too.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Flyers’ Patrick confident of returning to play this season

“If they’d gone away, I’d be playing.”

Nolan Patrick has yet to play a game for the Philadelphia Flyers this season due to a chronic migraine disorder. While he’s skated on his own for a while, he hasn’t taken part in a full practice in over a month and there’s still no timeline on a return.

With four months left in the 2019-20 regular season, the No. 2 overall pick from the 2017 NHL Draft isn’t giving up hope.

“I expect to play this year,” Patrick said Tuesday morning.

“He is progressing, he is doing more off-ice workouts and he is skating a little bit more on his own,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “Hopefully that’s a positive sign. That’s all I can really tell you. I don’t know much more than that.”

It’s not been easy for the 21-year-old forward as there are good days and bad days. There’s a lot of time by himself, but Patrick said his teammates have done a great job in making him feel a part of the team this season. He’s has been on a specific training program and he can get in the gym on a daily basis, but the recovery hasn’t gone smooth.

“If I’m not feeling that great that day we’ll just pump the brakes a little bit,” said Patrick. “It’s just trying to put together more good days in a row than bad. I’m not gonna go too much into my symptoms or what I have but it’s obviously frustrating. It’s not an injury where you’re going to be back in six weeks. There’s no timeframe to it. Obviously I’m hoping to get back soon and I believe I’ll play this year so that’s something I’m trying to stick with.”

As he’s been able to get on the ice, like Tuesday’s optional skate at Wells Fargo Center that featured the scratches for their game against the Maple Leafs, the next goal for Patrick to achieve is to take part in a full practice.

“Obviously I’m not gonna go into too much detail but there’s obviously a lot of things I’ve had to change,” Patrick said. “It’s an annoying process. It’s s—–. Hopefully I get back soon.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT Morning Skate: Are Bruins best team? Seabrook’s difficult situation

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Capitals are allowing themselves to be inspired by the World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals. (NHL)

• Joe Haggerty argues that the Boston Bruins are the best team in the NHL. (NBC Sports Boston)

Joel Armia always had potential, but he’s finally starting to produce. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

• The Devils’ goaltending is a problem, but it should get better in the near future. (All About the Jersey)

• There’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding Nolan Patrick‘s health. (NBC Sports Philly)

Mitch Marner is confident that his production will start increasing sooner than later. (Toronto Star)

• Who will the Pens use their cap space on? (Pensburgh)

• Veteran Brent Seabrook is currently in a tough situation with the Chicago Blackhawks. (Chicago Sun-Times)

• Here are three St. Louis Blues that can step up to fill the void left by Vladimir Tarasenko. (St. Louis Game-Time)

Troy Terry‘s been playing some better hockey for the Anaheim Ducks. (Anaheim Calling)

• Now that Nate Schmidt is back in the Golden Knights lineup, that should allow Shea Theodore to produce more offense. (Sinbin.Vegas)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Stewart earns contract with Flyers after month-long PTO

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Chris Stewart’s tryout with the Philadelphia Flyers has come to an end and the result is a one-way contract with the team.

The Flyers announced on Tuesday that they have signed the soon-to-be 32-year-old winger to a one-year, $750,000 contract. Stewart had been on a PTO deal since training camp and due to a salary cap crunch were unable to sign him. That door opened on Monday when Andy Welinski was waived, freeing up the money to make it happen.

“We’re happy to have Chris under contract,” said Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher in a statement. “Chris came into training camp with a great attitude and a strong work-ethic. He brings size and a veteran presence to our lineup.”

Welinski, along with Nolan Patrick, had been on injured reserve and his salary counted against the Flyers’ cap, tying Fletcher’s hands. His $750,000 salary will now come off the books after clearing waivers as he heads to the AHL.

Despite retaining PTO status once the season began, Stewart has been with the Flyers through their three games. He was with them on their early-season jaunt to Europe and has been skating with the team as they take part in their current Western Canada road trip. He’s expected to make his debut Tuesday night in Calgary. Per the Courier Post, the Flyers have been covering the cost of Stewart’s hotel, which is near their training facility, and he’s been receiving per diem.

Before signing his PTO with the Flyers in July, Stewart had not played in the NHL since the 2017-18 season when he suited up for 54 games with the Wild and Flames. He spent last season in Great Britain’s EIHL playing for the Nottingham Panthers.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.