Nolan Patrick

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Flyers GM Fletcher expects Patrick to return from migraines

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’ 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.

McKenzie on Devils-Hischier contract talks, health of Flyers’ Patrick

Hockey insider Bob McKenzie stopped by the NBCSN studio during the first intermission of Devils – Flyers on Tuesday (a 4-0 win for Philadelphia), providing some interesting updates on the top pick of the 2017 NHL Draft (Nico Hischier) and Nolan Patrick, who went second that same year.

Devils aim for extension with Hischier

McKenzie brought up some interesting comparables for Hischier, including Arizona Coyotes winger Clayton Keller (eight year extension with $7.15M AAV begins next season) and Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor (signed for seven years, $7.14M AAV this summer). McKenzie explains that, while Hischier might not have reached the same production heights as Connor or Keller when those two had been at their best, Hischier’s all-around game makes up some of the difference.

The Devils have some reason to show some haste. While there might be some sticker shock at being in that $7M stratosphere, Hischier could really drive up his perceived value if he enjoys a huge season with Taylor Hall on his wing. McKenzie wonders if Hischier might even push for a Mikko Rantanen-type deal ($9.2M AAV) if he has a big enough 2019-20.

With Hall in a contract year, the Devils could also get some cost certainty if they hash something out sooner, rather than later.

Of course, McKenzie describes this opportunity as a “platform year” for Hischier, who might benefit from waiting things out.

Migraine issues still fuzzy for Patrick

The Flyers are hoping to have impressive depth down the middle once Patrick can join Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes.

While McKenzie reports that there has been progress – Patrick didn’t travel overseas with the Flyers, but is expected to travel with the team in North America – it sounds like this is still a week-to-week thing for the 21-year-old.

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Nolan Patrick won’t be ready for start of Flyers’ season

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So far in Nolan Patrick‘s young career, things haven’t exactly gone as planned. The odds of Patrick getting off to a strong start in 2019-20 looks slimmer after an unsettling announcement on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Flyers announced that Patrick won’t be ready for the start of the season, and is considered week-to-week with migraine syndrome. Patrick just turned 21 on Sept. 19.

Here’s the official release from the Flyers:

Via Dr. Stephen D. Silberstein at Merck Manual, migraines can become “worse with exertion,” and cause sensitivity to light, among other troubling elements that may become tougher as a hockey player.

Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis ranks of the most memorable cases of a professional athlete suffering from migraines, as he missed the second quarter of Super Bowl XXXII (1998) with severe issues.

Under certain alignments, the Flyers were equipped to boast some appealing center depth, as Sean Couturier could occasionally allow Claude Giroux to flourish on the wing, while expensive new forward Kevin Hayes would possibly serve as 2C. In that scenario, the hope was that Patrick would flourish as a third-line center against lesser competition.

This obviously throws a wrench in that plan, but here’s hoping that Patrick can find a way to manage those migraine issues and get back on track as the second overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft.

Patrick provided limited offense so far in his career (30 points as a rookie in 2017-18, 31 last season), and didn’t really distinguish himself with middling possession stats, but there’s still plenty of room to grow. This is a discouraging update in that regard, though.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Previewing the 2019-20 Philadelphia Flyers

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(The 2019-20 NHL season is almost here so it’s time to look at all 31 teams. We’ll be breaking down strengths and weaknesses, whether teams are better or worse this season and more!)

For more 2019-20 PHT season previews, click here.

Better or Worse: Better, although it remains to be seen if the Flyers get their money’s worth.

Kevin Hayes has a strong chance to serve as an elusive 2C, but there will be significant pressure stemming from a risky contract that carries a $7 million AAV. How you grade other moves comes down to taste. Is Matt Niskanen due for a bounce-back season, or did the Flyers just waste money and flexibility on a downgrade from Radko Gudas? Alain Vigneault brings name recognition and decent resume to the table, but his teams have often been swamped from a possession standpoint. We may look back at this situation and realize that Scott Gordon might have been the better option.

Strengths: If everything breaks right, the Flyers have a nice mix of veterans with enough left in the tank (Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk), players in the meat of their primes (Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere), and young talent about to make the leap (Carter Hart, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny).

Nolan Patrick has been a bit of a disappointment, but with Couturier taking 1C and Hayes slotting in at 2C, the second overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft may flourish against lesser competition.

If everything pans out, the Flyers could have a nice mix of scoring, modern-style defense, and goaltending. I’d expect a lot of the things that went wrong in 2018-19 to correct in 2019-20, though it’s possible that the Flyers’ outlook was inflated a bit by a lot going right in 2017-18.

Weaknesses: There are reasons to wonder if certain players are overrated. Management may have put too much stock in Niskanen and Justin Braun, two players who’ve had a rough go of things lately and are 32. Even Ivan Provorov might not be quite as dynamic as many believe.

Rolling with Carter Hart is mostly smart, but it’s unsafe to merely assume that he’ll have a strong season. He’s still pretty wet behind the ears, and was actually struggling a bit in the AHL with a .902 save percentage before his big call-up. Brian Elliott isn’t exactly the greatest safety net either, considering his struggles on the ice lately — when he can even be healthy enough to suit up.

It’s also fair to worry about Father Time limiting the likes of Giroux and Voracek, not just players like Niskanen. Even JVR is already 30.

Frankly, recent experience points to Vigneault being a weakness, especially if he indulges in too much of a fixation with fighters, as he notoriously did with Tanner Glass in New York.

[MORE: 3 Questions | Under Pressure | Patrick the X-factor]

Coach Hot Seat Rating (1-10, 10 being red hot): Hiring Alain Vigneault felt like one of several Flyers moves based on reputation and name recognition. Ron Hextall had introduced the rare concept of “patience” to this often-impetuous franchise, yet Chuck Fletcher is bringing a nostalgic air of chaos. I’d expect Vigneault to be fairly safe in his first year, so let’s put him at three.

Three Most Fascinating Players: Hart, Patrick, Sanheim.

The Flyers have a lot hinging on Hart, so we’ll see if he can justify his pedigree, and all of the relief people felt when he looked so promising late last season. It figures to be a less volatile situation than last season’s rotation of eight goalies, but that doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed success.

Fans would be wise not to daydream too much about how much more potent this Flyers team would look with Miro Heiskanen (third overall) or Elias Pettersson (fifth overall) instead of Patrick at that second pick from 2017. Even if you can ignore such painful thoughts, the bottom line is that Philly needs more from the 21-year-old.

During Gordon’s interim run, Sanheim got a big bump in stature, and he delivered with promising play. Will that carry over with AV, or will Sanheim sink?

Playoffs or Lottery: The Flyers figure to be a bubble team not unlike what they were in 2017-18. While I’m not sure they’ll make the playoffs, that seems like a safer bet than Philadelphia being lottery-bound.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.