There’s plenty of intrigue surrounding several young players in Philadelphia entering 2018-19, but perhaps none bigger than that surrounding 19-year-old forward Nolan Patrick.
The Flyers’ second overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft came into his own in the second half of his 2017-18 rookie season, finishing with 13 goals and 30 points in 73 games.
NHL Network analyst Mike Johnson, who played 12 years in the NHL, has selected Patrick as his No. 1 breakout player for the 2018-19 season.
Johnson cites Patrick’s two-way game, finishing ability, size and a full summer of training ahead of him as reasoning for the selection.
“We know his injury history, his lack of proper training, his lack of ability to hit the gym properly,” Johnson said, “and he’s still strong on the wall. That’s only going to get better as he matures physically.”
Patrick missed nine games in October and November because of a concussion and spent the majority of his rookie season getting his mobility back after undergoing abdominal surgery during the offseason. He’s missed the past two summers of training because of surgery.
Once Patrick found his game, he was dynamite for the Flyers. The young forward recorded 17 points in the final 25 games of the regular season and was credited with five power-play goals. It’s projected he could take the place of forward Wayne Simmonds on the first power-play unit in 2018-19.
Oilers’ superstar forward Connor McDavid was the NHL Network’s No. 1 breakout candidate for 2017-18.
Patrick joined “NHL Tonight” on Friday to discuss the recognition and where he’s at with summer training:
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) July 21, 2018
“Coming off that surgery last year,” Patrick said, “I had a slow start. It took a while to get my body back to where I wanted it to be. I missed two summers of training. It’s been the first summer for me in a while that I’ve been back in the gym.”
Patrick was clearly not happy in his exit interview back in April after the Flyers were eliminated from the postseason by the Penguins.
“It’s going to be a big summer for me. I’m not satisfied with how the year was or how my year was, so I’m looking to take big steps here.”
The Flyers have plenty of players to watch next season, but don’t be surprised if the second overall pick in 2017 steals the show.