SUNRISE, Fla. — Center Nolan Patrick is making very good progress and there’s a chance he will join the Flyers’ practices on a full-time basis as early as Monday, general manager Chuck Fletcher said before Thursday’s game in Florida.
Patrick, 21, who scored 13 goals in each of his first two seasons, skated Thursday in Voorhees. He has missed the entire season because of a migraine disorder.
“He’s really been ramping up the intensity of his skates,” Fletcher said, “and hopefully on Monday he’ll be part of our group for skating. He’s not cleared for contact yet, but, again, he’s continuing to do more and more on the ice and more and more off the ice. He’s trending the right way.”
Added Fletcher: “Our schedule the next few weeks has us at home more than we’re traveling, so we should have the opportunity to integrate him into our [practice] group.”
Fletcher said he will know more after he confers with trainer Jim McCrossin when the Flyers return from their road trip.
If the Flyers are able to get Patrick back, it might reduce their need to hit the trade market.
“It certainly could,” said Fletcher, mindful that the Feb. 24 trade deadline is approaching. “You can never have enough depth, but it’s hard to find a player of [Patrick’s] caliber available.”
Asked if Patrick’s headaches were subsiding, Fletcher said: “The intensity of his workouts has been able to increase, so I think that’s a good sign.”
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere returned home Thursday — he grew up in South Florida — but was not in the lineup as the Flyers faced the Panthers at the BB&T Center.
The good news: Gostisbehere’s surgically repaired left knee is feeling much better, and he may be available when the Flyers play in Tampa on Saturday afternoon.
Coach Alain Vigneault said Gostisbehere was almost 100 percent.
Because the Flyers have a surplus of defensemen, Gostisbehere’s name will surface in trade rumors before the deadline. He is viewed as an attractive trade candidate because of his ability to quarterback a power play. Gostisbehere has just one power-play goal this season, but the hope is that his repaired knee will give him better lateral movement and make him more effective.