The recent stretch of play by Philadelphia Flyers forward Nolan Patrick had raised questions about his status for the World Junior Championship. The Flyers would have the option to loan Patrick to Team Canada and allow him to participate. Ron Hextall shot that idea down, saying that Patrick will remain with the Flyers.
The Flyers have four games during the WJCs, beginning on December 26th. Canada would have two pre-tournament games on December 20th and 22nd. If Patrick was to participate, the Flyers would be without him for seven games. That amount of time would be too much for a team that is struggling through a rebuilding phase.
The decision to keep Patrick also shows that the Flyers would rather have him in the NHL and work through his struggles. He is not eligible for the AHL, likely another factor in the decision to not loan him.
#Flyers rookie Nolan Patrick will not be loaned to Team Canada for the upcoming World Juniors, GM Ron Hextall said.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) December 10, 2017
Nolan Patrick Will Not Be Loaned Out For World Juniors
Nolan Patrick started the season on the team’s second line with Wayne Simmonds and Jordan Weal. At the time, he was consistently logging over 13 minutes a game. The offensively talent was there, as he contributed with one goal and three assists in his first eight games.
Patrick would take a hit in a game against the Anaheim Ducks that would sideline him for nearly a month of play. The points have been hard to come by since he returned to play on November 16th. He is also now on a line with Dale Weise and Travis Konecny.
Patrick has just one goal and two assists in his last 11 games. He is also on a five-game pointless streak. He has recently seen a reduction in his minutes. Patrick has averaged less than nine minutes of ice time in his last three games.
“He’s played some good hockey for us; he’s [also] played some hockey that’s not up to the level that he’s established even at his age.” GM Ron Hextall said.” The consistency part is something he has to get better at, as you can say for most 19-year-olds. There’s games we’re happy with him and there’s games we need more from him.”
It can be argued that Patrick’s current ice time is not helpful to his development. However, there was an opportunity for Patrick to succeed before the minutes’ reduction. The Flyers were in the middle of a 10-game losing streak before the trip to Western Canada. It’s not uncommon for a coach to shorten their bench. And Patrick had not shown the confidence to help the team break out of it.
WHL, WJC Or The NHL?
For Patrick, it is a matter of regaining the confidence he showed that let the Flyers know he was ready to be in the NHL. Playing in the WJC would give Patrick the chance to compete against players his own age. He showed his dominance while playing with the Wheat Kings. It is easy to assume he would do the same with Team Canada.
The Flyers also have the option to send Patrick back to the WHL, even after burning one year of his entry-level deal. Despite playing 33 games last season, Patrick still posted impressive numbers. He had 20 goals and 26 assists during that span of time.
In 163 regular season WHL games, Patrick has 92 goals and 113 assists. Heading back to the WHL for another season would allow Patrick to get back to the level he was at before the injuries.
These options are not realistic ones, however. While Patrick is struggling, he needs to be challenged to break out of his slump. Playing with and against players his own age will do nothing to challenge a player who has already dominated that level of hockey.
While it may help Patrick regain his confidence, it could also send him the wrong message. Allowing Patrick to miss seven games may further hurt his confidence. It could send the message that the team feels they will be okay without him.
It will likely take some time for Patrick to figure out how to succeed at the NHL level. There is no cause for concern, however. Patrick is only 19-years-old and has plenty of time to find his way in the NHL.
In the end, keeping Nolan Patrick in the NHL is the best option that the Flyers can make.