There has been a lot of good news surrounding the Flyers recently. Another positive emerged Wednesday: Center Nolan Patrick, who has been sidelined all season because of a migraine disorder, rejoined the team at its practice in Voorhees.
But the good news was tempered after practice when coach Alain Vigneault said Patrick was only with the team because it was a “skills day” and no hitting was involved.
“When Nolan found out it was just going to be skills, he wanted to go out and skate with the guys,” Vigneault said. “That’s the extent of it. It created a little buzz, though.”
Still, the players were upbeat to have Patrick join them.
“He’s a big part of our team and when he comes back, it’s going to be huge,” right winger Jake Voracek said.
“It was good to have him out there with the boys, and I think it’s a little step for him,” left winger Scott Laughton said. “For him to be out there skating with us, he has to be feeling a little better.”
Vigneault said he didn’t know if Patrick, 21, had been cleared to have contact.
Oddly, the Flyers did not make Patrick available to talk to the media.
If Patrick returns down the road, he would probably first do a conditioning stint with the AHL’s Phantoms.
If he is able to return, it could cause the Flyers to move Claude Giroux from center back to left wing. If that happened, the centers might look like this: Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, Patrick, and Laughton. Laughton, however, has been highly productive as the third-line left wing lately, and might stay there. Connor Bunnaman has been the fourth center.
But we’re jumping ahead of ourselves. A lot has to happen first.
Patrick scored 13 goals in each of his last two seasons. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
The Flyers, on a 6-1-1 run, will host New Jersey on Thursday.