Philadelphia Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol has seen a change in Nolan Patrick. That has resulted in a line change in which the second overall pick in last year’s NHL Entry Draft will center Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek on the team’s second line.
Patrick has only has nine points this year with three goals and six assists in his 40 games played. To rival that, Nico Hischier, who was taken the first overall last year, has 29 points in 48 games played.
The big difference is that Hischier has been deployed as the top center for the New Jersey Devils where he gets over four minutes more a game than Patrick.
At even-strength, Patrick has been averaging around 10 minutes a game. Simmonds and Voracek average around 14 to 15 minutes at even-strength a game. That is important because Patrick plays on the second power play unit while Voracek and Simmonds are on the number one unit. Hopefully this means that Patrick will see an astronomical five-minute jump in even-strength time.
The NHL and its fans have been spoiled by recent second overall picks. Patrick Laine and Jack Eichel have made immediate impacts on their teams and continue to get better as time goes on. Hischier and Patrick don’t have the same pedigree as their counterparts taken in drafts before them, but not all 18- and 19-year-olds can make an immediate impact on their team.
Patrick plays an extremely solid two-way game and that’s why Hakstol is giving him this increase in responsibility. While Patrick has not put up the stats that we have come to expect from second overall picks from the last two years, he shows his worth while playing in his own zone and creating opportunities for others.
Patrick will continue to grow in his role, but with Voracek and Simmonds on his sides, it would not be surprising to see a strong uptick in his offensive production as well as a continuance of great play in his own zone.
It starts Wednesday night in D.C.