Nolan Patrick is officially a member of the Philadelphia Flyers organization.
After the Devils opted to select Nico Hirschier with the first overall pick at the NHL Draft on Friday night, Patrick fell in to General Manager Ron Hextall’s lap at No. 2. Since Hirschier and Patrick were the consensus top-two picks – ranked No. 1 and No. 1A – it was probably the easiest decision Hextall has had to make since becoming GM.
Now, Patrick needs to officially become a member of the Flyers’ roster.
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Barring a poor performance at training camp – or suffering a long-term injury – the gifted center should take the ice with captain Claude Giroux and the rest of the team on Oct. 4 in San Jose for the season opener.
There is no need to send him back to his junior team, the Brandon Wheat Kings in the West Hockey League.
This 18 year old is ready for the NHL.
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, he already has the size and strength to survive the rigors of an 82-game season and would be one of the biggest players on the team.
A smooth skater who sees the ice well, has great hands, can score and is good at faceoffs and considered a two-way player, Patrick already has the skill to mesh with anyone on the roster and compete with anyone in the league. He finished with 20 goals and 26 assists in 33 games with the Wheat Kings last season, which was marred by an injury, and had 41 goals and 61 assists in 72 games in 2015-16.
What more does he have to prove in juniors?
While there is not much room for him to play center this season, he would have few issues moving to wing on the second or third line. He can move back to center next season after center Valtterri Filppula likely leaves as a free agent.
History is also on Patrick’s side.
Of the last 11 players taken second overall, all but two have played in the NHL the ensuing season. They haven’t just been warm bodies taking a few shifts, either. The majority have produced standout rookie campaigns.
The only hurdle standing in Patrick’s way of wearing a Flyers jersey is his health. He missed 35 games last year due to a sports hernia, but as long as he is 100 percent recovered, which Patrick claims he is, then it should be a non-issue.
With the Flyers, Patrick will bring much-needed offense to a unit that needs a spark and join a core of young players to grow with such as Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecney.
Don’t wait, Ron Hextall. Nolan Patrick should be a member of the Flyers this season.