By Matt Mastrogiovanni, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
Top-tier draft picks in the National Hockey League are expected to make an immediate impact on their team. For some, those picks can completely change the course of a team's performance. In the case of Nolan Patrick, the sophomore Flyer has yet to find his stride in the big league.
As a second overall pick back in 2017, the fresh-faced forward was a breath of fresh air for the team. Not since drafting now-veteran forward James van Riemsdyk had the Flyers nabbed such a coveted spot in the draft. Patrick was taken at No. 2 overall and supplemented an already positive outlook on a well-stocked, young Flyers system.
In his first year at the NHL level, the now 20-year-old didn't exactly break out, posting 30 points in 73 games, not bad for a rookie but definitely on the low side for such a highly-touted prospect. To his defense, the young forward was battling a core muscle injury before he was even drafted by the Flyers. He elected to have surgery and claimed afterwards that he was all systems go.
Fast forward to this season and Patrick is in another unfortunate situation. The second-year forward left last Thursday's game against Tampa and missed the remainder of the team's road trip, a total of three games. It is possible that Patrick could return by Saturday, when the team hosts Calgary.
Even before the injury, the Winnipeg native was still having trouble getting on the scoresheet. Patrick has 11 points through 33 games this season and has just one point in his last five games. Though he is not playing poorly overall, the young star just can't seem to find the back of the net.
With all the negative that may be impacting Patrick, there are some positives. Most recently, his lone goal in a shootout gave the Flyers an all-important victory over the New York Rangers heading into the holiday break.
Patrick has also shown glimpses of how good he can be on the ice with a well-executed assist to Shayne Gostisbehere on Dec. 18, while also potting a goal off a beautiful feed from Jake Voracek back on Oct. 20 which can be seen below:
Despite trouble finding his scoring touch, it's nowhere near time to give up on Patrick. Battling injury, coaching changes, and the constant ups and downs of an NHL season can take their toll on a young player. That being said, the former draft pick is still expected to kick things into a higher gear and start to consistently produce for his team.