The Flyers announced the development Camp roster and schedule on Friday and Nolan Patrick was the obvious standout on the roster.
Development Camp is a particularly popular time at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, just because it offers a first chance to see new draft picks. It is rare for the Flyers to have a draft pick attending that comes with as much hype as Patrick has.
But GM Ron Hextall killed the buzz a bit almost immediately following the Development Camp announcement. Nolan Patrick had surgery to repair a sports hernia on June 13, 10 days before the NHL Draft. He will not be participating in on-ice activities.
Immediately, speculation went up about two things: Patrick’s availability for training camp and his chances of making the roster. By having the surgery when he did this offseason, not much changes in regards to Patrick’s immediate future.
The timeline for recovery for Patrick is 4-6 weeks from the date of the surgery. Patrick still has 2-4 weeks to go -- for precautionary measures, assume four weeks -- and then can resume full activities. That set him up to begin fully training again by August 1 with over a month before training camp. He’ll be at training camp, no question about it.
But having played in only 33 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings in his draft year and now missing the on-ice portion of Development Camp, does Patrick need more seasoning? The answer is still unknown.
Patrick hasn’t been on the ice for Flyers coaches. He hasn’t been in the spotlight of training camp practices yet. Like any prospect in Ron Hextall’s pipeline, Patrick will need to prove he deserves the spot before he gets it, even if the Flyers made some recent moves that suggest they are making room for the No. 2 pick.
Patrick’s maturity in this situation comes into play. He was misdiagnosed in Brandon, played last season with the ailment -- which Hextall said shows how tough Patrick is -- and then made the decision himself to have the surgery done even with under two weeks to go until the Draft so he could save two weeks of the summer for extra training once he was fully recovered.
"He's had this done pretty early, he's still got lots of time here," Hextall said. "This is a full recovery in 4-6 weeks. This isn't you can start skating in 4-6 weeks, this is a full recovery. He's got plenty of time to get through a summer training. Is this a perfect world? Of course not. You never want any of your players to interrupt your summer training. He's got long enough now that we believe he can be in shape and at his best at training camp."
Bottom line: the Flyers knew exactly what the situation was when they drafted him. If they had any concerns that this wasn’t going to play out, they would have gone a different direction with their selection at No. 2.
And for Patrick, it allows him to move on. All the ailments that held him out for so much of the 2016-17 season in Brandon were probably the result of the sports hernia. Hextall said it was a common procedure, Patrick’s visit with Flyers doctors provided clarity and now both Patrick and the Flyers can start working to move past it.
Patrick even acknowledged such before the Draft.
"There’s a ton of guys that have these injuries these days and everyone bounces back from it," Patrick said at the Combine. "It happens to a lot of hockey players and mostly comes from over-usage. It’s a tough bounce, but you know it’s the way it goes sometimes."
It’s no secret, based on the way he’s carried himself so far, that Patrick is a motivated kid. He wants to be in the NHL next season and will do everything he can to make the team.
This may be an interesting start, but it’s also the right approach, given the circumstances. And understanding that, means very little change for Nolan Patrick and his immediate future with the Flyers.