Nolan Patrick will not be a holdout when the Vegas Golden Knights open training camp Wednesday.
Patrick, the team’s remaining unsigned player, agreed Sunday to a two-year deal with an average annual value of $1.2 million. The 23-year-old center was acquired by the Golden Knights from the Nashville Predators this summer for center Cody Glass after the Philadelphia Flyers sent him and Philippe Myers to the Predators for Ryan Ellis.
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said last week he didn’t anticipate any issues getting Patrick, a restricted free agent, in the fold. He said RFA’s are always the last deals to get done. It’s also one less thing McCrimmon will have to address when he meets with the media Wednesday at City National Arena and it won’t be a potential distraction during camp.
Patrick was the No. 2 overall player selected in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft but had battled injury issues playing junior hockey, including a sports hernia injury which kept him out for long stretches. In his four years with the Flyers, Patrick struggled to stay healthy and appeared in just 197 games. He scored 30 goals and had 40 assists during his time in Philadelphia and those numbers would’ve been higher had he been able to stay on the ice. He missed the entire 2019-20 season with migraine issues stemming from a concussion. His best season with the Flyers came in 2018-19 when he had 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points.
When he was healthy, he struggled to find a permanent spot in the Flyers’ lineup. He never appeared comfortable wherever he was placed and it was a battle to win the confidence of coach Alain Vigneault. Chuck Fletcher, who was not Philadelphia’s general manager when the Flyers drafted Patrick, had no allegiance to him.
“I think there’s still a story to be written by Nolan for his career,” Fletcher said after the trade with Nashville. “I’m certainly pulling for him and I think the world of him. He’s battled through a lot of adversity.”
In coming to Vegas, Patrick is reunited with McCrimmon, who was owner and GM of the Brandon Wheat Kings, where Patrick, a Winnipeg native, played his junior hockey. McCrimmon has always believed in the 6-foot-2, 203-pound Patrick and the hope is a change of scene will finally get Patrick to realize his potential and live up to his billing as the No. 2 overall pick.
Where Patrick will fit with the Golden Knights will be one of the main storylines of camp. He could find himself centering the team’s top line playing with Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. He could be the third line center or perhaps even the fourth line. The Knights have a number of candidates ready to compete for spots in the lineup and Patrick will have to earn his way.
Look for coach Peter DeBoer to take a long look at Patrick in several spots during the preseason along with giving him a turn on the Golden Knights’ power play, which is in desperate need of a boost. One thing is certain, Patrick will get every opportunity to earn his ice time in Vegas.