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Nolan Patrick keeping busy, but not quite ready to return to the ice

The No. 2 overall pick in the draft is still recovering from a sports hernia, but he's in Philadelphia for Flyers development camp, and he's been invited to Canada’s world junior summer camp.

Nolan Patrick is busy – and he’s only gonna get busier from here on out.

As I reached him on the phone in Montreal earlier this week, he was prepping for a promotional shoot with clothing company RW&Co., that would include other media hits and last the rest of the day. Right now, he’s in Philadelphia, taking part in the Flyers’ development camp, where he is the big name amongst the latest rookie crop. Luckily, this is fun stuff for the teenager, starting with the shoot.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I’ve been into fashion for a long time. I’ve always been a suit guy.”

It’s been an exhausting year for Patrick, who went second overall to Philadelphia in the draft last month. Not only was he buzzed about before the season even began, but injuries limited him to just 33 games with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings and none in the playoffs. He ran the gauntlet of media in the Stanley Cup final, the draft combine and the draft itself. Questions about his health pop up at every turn.

Patrick will not take part in on-ice activities with the other Flyers rookies this week. He has a timeline for his return from sports hernia surgery, but he didn’t want to make it public just yet. Still, we’re going to continue talking about Patrick because there’s a lot to unpack. Once he is fully recovered, there will be the natural rivalry with Nico Hischier, whom New Jersey picked first overall over Patrick. The two have become close this summer thanks to all the events they’ve been at together and the fact Philly and Jersey play in the same division makes the Nico vs. Nolan storyline all the more delicious.

Patrick has been invited to Canada’s world junior summer camp later this month, something he had to miss last year due to his first sports hernia surgery, and it will be interesting to see what his impact is, assuming he’s ready. Needless to say, the cameras will be rolling again on that one. It’s all pretty wild for James Patrick, Nolan’s uncle and a former NHLer himself.

“I was getting sick of seeing his face,” James said with a laugh. “But mostly, I’m proud. Because we’re so close, I wanted him to do well. But I’m amazed at the media attention around all the kids getting drafted. I was happy how he handled himself.”

Nolan’s dad, Steve Patrick, also played in the NHL so there is plenty of insight to go around. Nolan and James frequently talk during the season and his uncle’s input has been important for the youngster.

“If I had to list everything he helped me with, I’d be sitting here all day,” Nolan said. “But he really stressed the defensive side of the game for me.”

Playing a 200-foot game is one of Nolan’s calling cards, so the message sunk in. It’s hard to say whether he’ll return to the Wheat Kings – on one hand, he’s an elite talent; on the other hand he missed almost a whole year of development and the Flyers have a lot of skilled forwards – but if he does, he might find himself starting across the bench at his uncle.

James was just hired by the rebuilding Kootenay Ice and didn’t balk at the idea of showing his kids some footage of his nephew.

“He’s so strong and so good at protecting the puck,” James said. “Then it’s middle-lane drive, middle-lane drive. He has good habits and great vision and passing skills.”

Hopefully, Nolan will have to keep answering media questions this fall. But instead of inquiries about rehab times and how he’s feeling, he’s giving answers about where he’s going to live, or what it’s like to play against his hometown Winnipeg Jets for the first time. The talent is there, the drive is there – now we just have to wait. Patrick has done plenty of waiting already, so I’m sure he’s anticipating his first crack at the Flyers’ roster more than anyone.




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