Nolan Patrick opens up about injury history, mindset at NHL combine

Nolan Patrick opens up about injury history, mindset at NHL combine

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nolan Patrick took a timeout toward the end of his shift with reporters on Friday at the NHL Scouting Combine.

The top-ranked draft prospect was feeling the heat inside the NHL's Centennial Museum track and had to remove his jacket before answering the last few questions.

Patrick is not sweating his draft status after meeting with the Flyers and a dozen other teams this week and reaffirming his health heading into Saturday's fitness testing.  

"I'm not going to try to prove anything," Patrick said. "I'm just going to try and do the tests to the best of my abilities."

Along with Swiss skater Nico Hischier, the Winnipeg-born Patrick is one of two 18-year-old centers the Flyers are expected to select with the No. 2 pick in the June 23-24 draft. The New Jersey Devils hold the first pick and have not yet revealed their plans.

Patrick said he informed teams this week that he has recovered from a misdiagnosed double sports hernia injury that limited him during his last season of junior hockey. He had surgery on his right groin muscle last July, but a similar injury on his left side went undetected and did not heal until after the season.

After leading Brandon to the Western Hockey League championship in 2016, Patrick missed more than half of this past season, including all four WHL playoff games, with various injuries. He has been medically cleared for combine testing and expects to be able to participate in an NHL training camp in September.

"Obviously, it wasn't the ideal season for me," Patrick said. "I don't think any hockey player wants something like that, especially in your draft year."

But now that he is healthy, Patrick believes the injury helped his development.

"I don't think it was the worst thing for me," he said. "I think a little adversity for a young kid makes you stronger as a player. I didn't talk about it during the year in the media, that I was misdiagnosed. This is the first time I've really said anything about it."

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Patrick still produced 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games last season and won the Top Prospect Award as the best draft-eligible player in the Canadian Hockey League. Hischier, who played in Halifax, was also a finalist for the award.

The NHL teams try to get to know them better this week, while the consensus top two prospects in the draft have spent time getting to know each other.

"It's good to see that he's a really good guy," Patrick said of Hischier.

Patrick said he got no "vibes" from his meeting with the Devils on which player they were leaning toward with the No. 1 pick.

Does Patrick believe he should be the one?

"That's not up for to decide, so I guess I'll see what the NHL teams think," Patrick said. "Obviously, that would be a huge honor. … But I'd be honored to go anywhere."

Patrick is also unconcerned with the perception that the top prospects in this year's draft are not as good as the prizes from 2015 (Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel) or 2016 (Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine).

"At the end of the day, I'm just trying to make the NHL and contribute as much I can," Patrick said. "I'm not putting any added pressure on myself. … I try not to compare myself to those guys. I don't expect to come in and put 40 goals up, or score four goals in my first game. I don't think that happens very often."

Patrick's father, Steve, played 250 games for the Sabres, Rangers and Nordiques from 1980-86. His uncle, James, played 1,280 games with the Rangers, Whalers, Flames and Sabres from 1983-2006 and was an assistant coach for the Stars the past four seasons.

Patrick said his father and uncle have taught him that how he carries himself off the ice will be as important to his success and his skills on the ice.

"They have been huge for me since I was really young," he said.

Unfamiliar with Philadelphia, Patrick does have a friend on the Flyers.

"I've never been there, but one of my good buddies, Ivan Provorov, plays there," Patrick said. "I've talked to him a bit and he loves it."

Flyers-Oilers thoughts: Welcoming the best player in the world to Philly

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Flyers-Oilers thoughts: Welcoming the best player in the world to Philly

Flyers (4-3-0) vs. Oilers (2-4-0)
1 p.m. on NBCSP, and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 12:30

The best player in the world comes to South Philly today. Get your popcorn ready.

The Flyers, coming off a 1-0 loss to the Predators, host the Oilers in their first matinee of the season at the Wells Fargo Center. It’s Game 4 of the Flyers’ five-game homestand.

Let’s dive into some pregame thoughts before puck drop.

• Move over, Sidney Crosby. There’s a new sheriff in town. It’s time to anoint Connor McDavid as the best player in the world. Many already have. I’m fully on board now.

This kid is special, and each game he does something that blows your mind. On Thursday night, it was a ridiculous spin-o-rama assist against the Chicago Blackhawks.

What made the play exceptional was who he did it against, Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Between the two are seven All-Star Game appearances, two Norris Trophies and one Conn Smythe Trophy, so that’s no joke.

McDavid has three goals and five assists in six games this season. He has 156 points in 133 career games. He’s 20 years old. He should be the face of the league yesterday.

Market him better. I don’t care that he plays in Canada.

• It’s time to put the Brandon Manning-McDavid storyline to bed. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s overplayed (see story). If Manning is in McDavid’s head, it’s not for the better.

McDavid scored a goal and an assist last season in Philadelphia in his first game against the Flyers since Manning broke McDavid’s collarbone with a clean hockey play.

Then, in Edmonton, McDavid had a goal and two assists. Manning played both games. So if anything, it’s adding extra motivation for the best player in the world.

• It appears Travis Sanheim will remain in the lineup, a positive for two reasons:

1. Thursday against Nashville was Sanheim’s best game.

2. Sanheim’s speed and skating is a plus when having to defend McDavid.

Will Sanheim see much ice time against McDavid? I sure hope not. But the Oilers are a decent skating team, and McDavid’s speed is insane. You want as much speed against them as possible.

• You sure hope Jordan Weal can return after missing Thursday with an injury to part of his body. Weal is an important piece for the Flyers, and without him, Dave Hakstol will have to shuffle up his lines. Simply can’t replace Weal with Jori Lehtera on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.

That unit against the Predators was a disaster. If Weal is out again, I’d insert Matt Read into the lineup. He’s better suited for what the Flyers are doing now than Lehtera.

The good news is Weal practiced Friday. He’s expected to play.

• Three random Flyers stats:

1. Jakub Voracek needs two more points to reach 500 in his career. He will become the 23rd Czech player with 500 career points.

2. Shayne Gostisbehere’s 10 points are the most by a Flyers defenseman through the team’s first seven games dating back to the 1987-88 season.

3. Michal Neuvirth leads NHL goaltenders with a .957 save percentage. He was the worst qualified goalie last season in that category.

• The Oilers again will be without center Leon Draisaitl because of a concussion. Draisaitl practiced Friday but is still feeling symptoms. He hasn’t played since Oct. 9.

• Kailer Yamamoto, the Oilers’ 2017 first-round pick, has seen an increased role with Draisaitl injured. Edmonton has four more games to decide whether it’ll keep Yamamoto or send him back to junior. Yamamoto enters today on a three-game assist streak.

Here is the Flyers' projected lineup:

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forwards Jori Lehtera and Matt Read, and defenseman Brandon Manning.

Best of NHL: Ovechkin wins it for Caps in OT over Red Wings

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Best of NHL: Ovechkin wins it for Caps in OT over Red Wings

DETROIT — Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal at 1:56 of overtime gave the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

T.J. Oshie forced the extra session for the Capitals, tying it with 1:01 left in regulation with a power-play goal of his own. Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty on Trevor Daley in overtime, then won it with his 10th goal of the season - a familiar slap shot from the left circle that beat Petr Mrazek to the glove side.

Tomas Tatar scored twice in the third period for Detroit. His second goal came on the power play after John Carlson was called for delay of game. But Dylan Larkin was whistled for the same penalty toward the end of the period, and Oshie was able to tie it at 3 with Caps goalie Braden Holtby pulled.

Darren Helm scored a short-handed goal for the Red Wings in the second. Andre Burakovsky tied it for the Capitals in the final minute of that period, and Jay Beagle added a short-handed goal of his own in the third for Washington (see full recap). 

Conor Sheary lifts Penguins past Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. — Conor Sheary scored a power-play goal with 2:53 left to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

Sheary backhanded the puck past James Reimer.

Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist, and Sidney Crosby and Carter Rowney also scored for the Penguins. Matthew Murray stopped 28 shots, and Phil Kessell had two assists.

MacKenzie Weegar scored his first NHL goal and Aleksander Barkov and Jamie McGinn also scored for the Panthers. Reimer, who came in to relieve an injured Robert Luongo with 15:14 left in the third, made 11 stops.

Luongo made 33 saves before he left with a hand injury. He was hurt when Sheary backed into him, forcing his right hand hard against the post.

The Panthers tied it at 3 on Weegar's goal with 10:41 left. Weegar shot from the point and beat Murray (see full recap). 

Martin Jones makes 28 saves, Sharks beat Devils 3-0
NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun  had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl (see full recap).