It’s been well over a year since Nolan Patrick played in a Flyers hockey game but team management remains optimistic he can resume his NHL career, possibly as early as this upcoming season.
Patrick, the team’s first-round pick (second overall) three years go, has been suffering from a chronic migraine headache condition.
He skated with the team at various points this past season but never got into a game.
At Thursday’s press briefing, general manager Chuck Fletcher said Patrick has been in a good place and hopefully will continue to progress.
“Nolan’s feeling better,’’ Fletcher said. “He’s skating, he’s working out, he’s golfing (back home near Winnipeg). He’s living mostly a normal life.
“I think he’s made a lot of progress since March. Until we get him back, get him into a contact situation, it’s hard to know exactly when he will be ready to go. Yes, I’m counting on him playing at some time in ’20-’21.’’
This is a big question mark for the Flyers, who have Patrick slated as their third-line center behind Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes.
“We don’t even know when we’re going to start the ’20-’21 season,’’ Fletcher said. “So time is on his side. He continues to make progress and I continue to be optimistic.’’
>Power play assessment
The Flyers went 0 for 13 vs. the Islanders in their series and Philadelphia had just four PP goals for the entire playoffs.
Fletcher said during the regular season the power play was better (up to 14th from 26th the previous season).
“I think it was inconsistent,’’ he said. “If you look at the 13 games, we struggled to score, there’s no question. You look at the 10, 12 games prior to the pause, we were No. 1 in the league.
“The power play showed the ability to score at times and at times it didn’t. We made tactical adjustments and we couldn’t find a way to score in the playoffs. You always have to be careful, it’s a small sample size. We could have used some power-play goals but you could go back to the regular season and find 10-15 games when it was clicking.’’
>Off-season contract talk
Fletcher has a number of decisions to make on both restricted free agents (Carter Hart, Phil Myers) and unrestricted (Derek Grant, Nate Thompson, Justin Braun, Tyler Pitlick).
“Next week we’ll sit down and talk to the coaches,’’ Fletcher said. “You have to take a week to take the emotion out of it.
“We’ll dig into the numbers, dig into the observations, take a look at what we feel we need to do to get better. We’ll also have to look at what the demands of the market will be for all free agents and go from there.’’
>More from the bottom six
Fletcher pointed out the Flyers only received two goals from his bottom six forwards in the playoffs and that could be an issue down the road.
“Before the pause that was probably one of our strengths,’’ Fletcher said. “The postseason, that’s a scenario we have to look at. . .to see if we can get a healthy (Oskar) Lindblom and Patrick back.
“Both are top nine forwards and you would hope address that need.’’