With only 29 days until the 2018-2019 NHL season starts, it’s time to start thinking about realistic production from the Flyers’ young players. Back in the 2017 NHL entry draft, the Flyers made possibly one of the luckiest jumps in their franchise history. Predicted to pick at 13th overall, the Flyers jumped to second overall and landed the young Brandon Wheat Kings star Nolan Patrick. Patrick had been the undisputed number one prospect out of the WHL for many years prior, and the Flyers were fortunate enough to grab him at second overall.
After a somewhat uneventful first half of the season, Patrick seemed to begin to adjust to the speed and physicality of the modern day NHL. In the last 20 games of the season, Patrick began to excel, partially thanks to being promoted to centering the second line, and posted nearly a point per game. With that display of talent at the end of the season, it makes it easier for Flyers fans to predict what exactly Patrick will produce this upcoming season.
In 73 games last season, Patrick recorded 13 goals and 17 assists, for a total of 30 points. He averaged 13:43 of ice time per game over the course of the season, and was given a large defensive responsibility for a rookie, as he averaged 46 percent of his starts in the defensive zone. Now, Patrick is a solid defensive player, especially for his age, so we can realistically believe that his defensive starts are going to stay roughly the same, or even increase, as he gets older and better defensively. So, that likely won’t help increase his offensive production. However, due to his success on the second line last year, we can assume that centering the second line will be more or less his permanent position for this coming season. A higher position in the lineup, of course, will lead to more ice time. Another bonus that comes with a higher position in the lineup: better linemates. The signing of James Van Riemsdyk gives the Flyers a legitimate top-six threat. When centering the second line, Patrick will most likely be paired with Van Riemsdyk and Jake Voracek, both of which are prolific scorers.
Another statistic to keep in mind is Corsi. Last season, Patrick did not have a great Corsi score, averaging 49 percent over his 73 games. His potential linemates have Corsi scores of 55 percent and 53 percent respectively, over the course of their careers. This means, with two play drivers on Patrick’s wings, he is bound to have more time in the offensive zone, setting up more chances for him to score, or to help other people score.
Ultimately, there’s no way for anybody to truly know how Patrick is going to produce until he actually does it. However, with the trends that he set last season, and with the knowledge we have going into this season, predictions are made slightly easier. My personal opinion is that Patrick will end up recording a point total in the mid-60s. My personal point high for him is 65 points. With all of the new offensive help on his wings, and with the offensive brilliance that he showed late last season, it seems that it will be difficult for Patrick to not have an excellent year, and as he continues to grow and adjust to the NHL, it’s very possible that he will become a bonafide elite number one center.
All statistics used in this article are taken from hockeyreference.com
Noah is a lifelong Flyers fan who loves the sport of hockey almost as much as the orange and black. He is currently studying journalism and media studies at West Chester University.