About to 'get after it,' Nolan Patrick ready for 'big steps'

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About to 'get after it,' Nolan Patrick ready for 'big steps'

Nolan Patrick is no slouch in the strength and speed departments.

The 19-year-old is 6-foot-2, 198 pounds and showed deceptive bursts of giddy-up during his rookie season as the games grew bigger.

Imagine him after a full summer of training?

Patrick, already polished when it comes to being in front of the cameras, had his arms crossed and usual game face on — despite little emotion, he was picturing it.

"It's exciting. First time I can get after it," he said last week at his end-of-the-season press conference. "It's going to be a big summer for me. I'm not satisfied with how the year was or how my year was, so I'm looking to take big steps here."

Summer is a precious time for hockey players. It's when they can hammer away at specific areas to improve, especially with their bodies and skill sets.

Patrick hasn't been so lucky. His past two summers were marred by surgery and recovery. Prior to his final junior season and all-important draft year, Patrick underwent sports hernia surgery. Then, last June, he had abdominal surgery 10 days before the Flyers selected him No. 2 overall.

Sounds like this is the summer of Nolan Patrick.

"I'm just excited to be able to move," Patrick said. "I couldn't even run last summer. I only had about a month last summer to train, so I'm really excited to take a couple weeks off and then get after it. It's going to be some tough work but I'm excited for it."

Aside from moving and getting stronger, Patrick wants to focus on his shot this offseason while working with his skills coach. Last summer, so much was just about getting on the ice and being prepared enough for training camp.

Once Patrick started gaining back his mobility post surgery and following a nine-game absence because of a concussion, the big-bodied center turned it on, solidifying his role as the team's second-line center and joining the first-unit power play.

With each game, Patrick became more and more conspicuous. When the playoffs arrived, he was one of the Flyers' best forwards during the first-round exit to the Penguins.

"I think it was pretty noticeable when I got confident, I was a different player out there," Patrick said. "It was a big part of my game."

In Patrick's first 40 contests, he put up nine points (three goals, six assists) and a minus-3 rating. Over his final 33 regular-season games, he finished with 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) and a plus-4 mark.

"You just saw as the year went on, he got comfortable and confident and you started to see exactly why he was the second overall pick," Travis Konecny said. "He's a pretty unique player, not a lot of guys like him — big body, really good hands and pretty reliable."

Sean Couturier, a player with Patrick's type of two-way, all-around game, sees the future with him.

"He's another one of the guys who's just going to take over this team eventually and lead us," Couturier said. "He's got a lot of talent. He's smart. He's really mature for his age. Just the way he plays, the way he handles himself on and off the ice."

That should only improve this offseason. And if Patrick needs any motivation, he can recall his last two summers and how it impacted the introduction of his NHL dream.

"It was a bad start for me. I wasn't doing much to help the team win," Patrick said. "I kind of turned it around as much as I could and tried to contribute as much as I could. No excuses for you guys this summer for next year's start. It's going to be a big summer for me."

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

General manager Ron Hextall is nearly finished wrapping up contracts for his restricted free agents.

And his goalie picture is now clear for 2018-19.

The Flyers on Wednesday re-signed netminder Anthony Stolarz to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $761,250, according to a report by hockey writer John Hoven.

With Stolarz back, defenseman Robert Hagg remains the Flyers' lone restricted free agent.

Stolarz, a 2012 second-round pick, underwent a nightmarish 2017-18 season just a year after he made his NHL debut and performed well in seven games with the Flyers. The 24-year-old tore the meniscus in his left knee during early September, the same injury he suffered at the end of 2016-17 with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

He played in just one AHL game and three ECHL contests as a result. In 2016-17, he made his way to the big club and put up a 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in a small sample. Then the injury occurred with the Phantoms and it's been an uphill battle ever since for the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder.

Stolarz will have his work cut out for him — if he hasn't already — as playing time will be earned at Lehigh Valley with Alex Lyon back in the fold and Carter Hart joining them.

"It's just competition. No one is going to go in there and hand you a job, so you have to earn it,” Stolarz said in June after an on-ice workout at Flyers Skate Zone. "I think the thing for me is to prove I'm healthy. I don't think I've skated since the end of January. I had the one flare up before one of my games and it had nothing to do with my knee injury. It was a separate injury. I think the biggest thing is proving I'm healthy and going out there and working to prove I'm still a high-caliber goalie."

The Flyers' goaltending tandem is set with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts. Things obviously can change this offseason, as Neuvirth and Stolarz seemed like realistic trade candidates.

But as of now, it's Elliott and Neuvirth with the younger trio pushing and competing.

"I'd rather have too many goalies than too few," Hextall said earlier this month. "If something makes sense and we can make something happen, we'd at least look at it. We saw it last year. All of a sudden, a couple goalies go down and you're scrambling for goalies. If we start with five, we start with five. Not a perfect situation, but again, I'd rather start with five than with three."

More on the Flyers' goalies

• Following 'gloomy' time, what's next for Elliott?

• Why Neuvirth's NHL career hinges on this offseason

• Hart says so long to Twitter, hello to pro life

• No arbitration needed for Flyers and Lyon

• Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers.