Acquired in the third leg of a trade that sent Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Vegas Golden Knights snagged Nolan Patrick from Philadelphia by way of Nashville for fading prospect Cody Glass. Technically the trade was a separate exchange of the two prospects on July 17 but it doesn’t change that Philadelphia had soured on Patrick.
Glass was, of course, the first-ever draft pick by the Golden Knights in the NHL entry draft. He made his NHL debut in 2019-20 and played only 66 NHL games by 22 years old. Glass was drafted no. 6 overall, just four picks behind Patrick.
Before the 2017 NHL Draft, Nolan Patrick was the consensus first-overall pick but his stock dropped throughout the year leading up to the draft. With hindsight, players such Elias Pettersson, Miro Heiskanen, and Cale Makar have emerged as steals behind Patrick.
In 2015-16 Patrick scored a solid 102 points in 72 games played with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. At the draft, it was between the Canadian Patrick and the Swiss Nico Hischier. The New Jersey Devils picked their future captain Hischier and Patrick fell to the Flyers at no. 2.
Our colleagues in Philadelphia profiled Patrick’s struggles.
However, injuries damaged Patrick’s development. One of the reasons Patrick was not taken first by the Devils was due to his injures in his final year of juniors. He suffered a shoulder injury, an upper-body injury, and a sports hernia which he played through en route to winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup with the Wheat Kings.
Patric played only 33 games in his final year of juniors and it affected his play. Patrick’s injuries only got worse when he ventured to the NHL.
Patrick played north of 70 games in both his first two seasons in the NHL. He scored around 30 points both years with the Flyers. The star potential came along slowly for the young forward.
But in 2019-20 things took a turn for the worse as Patrick missed the entire season because of a migraine disorder. Head injuries are one of the most drastic and difficult injuries any athlete can go through, and for Patrick, they significantly limited effectiveness.
In 2020-21, he scored only nine points in 52 games with a nightmarish -30 rating.
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 17, 2021
His numbers went significantly down, despite never really being anything special in the first place. But this begs the question; can Patrick put it all together with a fresh start in a Golden Knights sweater? Right now to the 22-year-old is an RFA. He received a qualifying offer from the team and will not go to arbitration. You gotta think that both Patrick and the Golden Knights want to see Patrick prove himself on a short-term deal.
Right now the bar is set low for Patrick. If he plays this upcoming season and has a 10-15 point year that is eons better than his atrocious past two seasons. But the potential to be a top scorer is still there with Patrick as he is only 22. It is hard to predict if the forward will spend time in the top six, play as the team’s fourth-line center, or not play at all.
General manager Kelly McCrimmon gambled on Patrick. The Vegas Golden Knights GM is also the franchise owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings. He saw Patrick’s development up close in Brandon.
The trade that acquired Patrick was not another salary-cap move. It was one-for-one trade swapping two fading prospects from the same draft class.
Patrick has yet to put pen to Golden Knights paper for the upcoming season. He and Dylan Coghlan are the team’s remaining RFAs, but with the team up against the cap once more, they will need cheap and effective young players if they want to take another shot at Lord Stanley. Nolan Patrick will have to be one of those players.