(Kate Frese/SB Nation)
By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
It’s no secret that Flyers forward Nolan Patrick is struggling during his rookie year. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s time to panic.
In 33 games played, Patrick has only posted eight points, two goals and six assists.
Despite him not putting up great numbers during his rookie year, he still contributes quite a bit to the lineup. But as the second overall pick in last year’s NHL Draft, you would expect a good year for him in the numbers too.
Lately, Patrick has been centering the third line with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds on the wing. Earlier in the season, Patrick got off to a slow start as well, but that was due to a concussion suffered in his ninth game, along with having players such as Dale Weise on his line that just weren't the best fit for Patrick's skill set.
Following a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, the Flyers will have a week off which will not only help Philadelphia but it could help Patrick learn even more on what he can do to improve his game.
If you look closer at Patrick’s game, it’s the little things that he is doing that is actually making him an intelligent and tactical player. He makes the right passes when he needs to, controls the puck extremely well, and of course, has excellent ice vision.
Even he knows that points don’t come right away.
"I think everyone always wants things right away," Patrick said prior to the Flyers meeting with Detroit on Dec. 20. "When you come in, they want numbers right away and they want goals. They want all that immediately. I don’t know if it happens right away for every guy in their first year. Some guys do, some guys don’t.
"I’m confident that I can still get points and put numbers up but that’s not my main focus right now. My main focus is playing a good two-way game."
Patrick mentioned that back in September, he was trying to earn a roster spot based off of his defensive skills, knowing very well that scoring 102 points in the Western Hockey League might not transfer to anything in the NHL. Patrick's development could follow a similar path to Sean Couturier, a player whose focus was more on defense early in his career, with offensive numbers picking up as his career spanned.
Couturier is obviously working on the best year of his career with a team-leading 23 goals and 42 points. There would be no complaints if Patrick eventually was able to put up similar numbers as his game defensively grew at the NHL over the early part of his career.
Regardless of how Patrick finishes the rest of the season, the experience he is getting now is invaluable. He now knows what to expect as his NHL career continues to grow.