The news of New Jersey’s Nico Hischier signing a new seven-year, $50.7-million contract extension ($7.25-million salary cap hit) should raise a few eyebrows in Philadelphia.
Hischier was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft after the Devils won the NHL lottery.
Of course you remember which team also moved up 11 places from No. 13 to No. 2 in that draft: The Flyers, who promptly selected center Nolan Patrick.
Inevitably, the two players have been compared to each other throughout the first couple complete seasons.
To be fair, Hischier spent his rookie season playing alongside Taylor Hall, who was good enough to win the Hart Trophy that season for the National Hockey League’s MVP honor.
On the flip side, Patrick has spent time as a second- or third-line center for much of his tenure.
This season, Patrick has yet to see action due to a chronic migraine headache condition. He has begun a comeback and did skate for 30 minutes on Friday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.
The statistics comparison go very much in favor of Hischier. In 157 games, he’s posted 37 goals and 101 points.
For Patrick, it’s 26 goals and 61 points in 145 games.
The 21-year-old Winnipeg native, currently finishing up an entry level contract paying him $925,000 per year, is scheduled to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
That is, unless he signs an extension himself before next July 1.
The question is: For how much?
Two of the Flyers’ established young stars, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, just signed new contracts that are less than what Hischier agreed to. Provorov got six years, $40.5 million ($6.75 million per year) and Konecny got six years, $33 million ($5.5 million per year).
No doubt, Patrick is going to need some time to get up to speed because he missed all of training camp. And there’s no telling whether he’s going to get completely past this headache thing at some point because general manager Chuck Fletcher has said Patrick has been experiencing this problem, on and off, for a number of years.
So do the Flyers try to sign him in-season or wait until it’s over to see how this campaign goes?
The guess here is that the Flyers will do the latter. If you’re going to invest that much money in a young player, you want to make sure there aren’t chronic issues regarding his health.
Without question, the Flyers have their fingers crossed that Patrick returns to full strength and the contract matter sorts itself out to achieve fair value.
>Lines still a work in progress
Much was made of Jake Voracek’s recent demotion to a lower line but the veteran responded with a two-goal, three-point game the other night in the Flyers’ 6-3 loss at Edmonton.
Coach Alain Vigneault suggested not all that much should be made of changes because his lines aren’t set in stone quite yet.
“I’m saying we’re a work in progress,’’ said Vigneault, who has used that explanation a number of times despite five regular-season and seven preseason games. “I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be mixing and matching for some time. . .I don’t know how long.’’
Vigneault has been matching new center Kevin Hayes with a revolving cast of characters and while there have been spurts of success, the coach hasn’t seen anything worth sticking with yet.
“It (experimenting) will be until we find the combinations that permit us to have success,’’ Vigneault said.
>Surprising fast starts, slow starts
We’re only a few weeks into the new season but already there have been a number of eye-openers in the standings.
For instance, Dallas showed up at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night sporting an ugly 1-7-1 mark. Who knew?
On the flip side, Buffalo (6-1-1), Edmonton (7-1-0), Anaheim (6-2-0) and Colorado (6-0-1) figured to be improved but we weren’t planning on those kinds of fast starts.
Minnesota (1-6-0) has struggled big time and will have to get things going in a hurry to get back in playoff contention.
Another mild disappointment is New Jersey. With Hischier and No. 1 overall draft pick Jack Hughes in the fold, the Devils should be better than 1-4-2 this far along.