Flyers

Nolan Patrick will miss season opener after being diagnosed with migraine disorder

Nolan Patrick will miss season opener after being diagnosed with migraine disorder

Updated: 7:32 p.m.

NEW YORK — Nolan Patrick will miss the Flyers’ Oct. 4 season opener after being diagnosed with a migraine disorder.

The 21-year-old center had been doing solo work on the ice but hadn’t participated in training camp practices or played in any of the team’s preseason games. 

He remains week to week.

Here is a statement Thursday afternoon from general manager Chuck Fletcher:

After consultation with the Flyers’ medical staff and with specialist Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher from the University of Michigan, forward Nolan Patrick has been diagnosed with migraine disorder. Patrick will not be going to Europe and we will provide additional information once the team returns. He will not be ready to start the season and is listed as week to week.

Going back to when he was drafted second overall in 2017, Patrick has battled injuries, including a sports hernia issue, concussion and other upper-body ailments.

Patrick reached out to the Flyers in June about his concerns and the team worked with him throughout the summer.

"Without getting into all the details, there were times this summer he felt great and there were times he didn't feel great," Fletcher said Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. "That was kind of the confusing part of it from a medical perspective."

Are the migraines connected to previous hits?

The doctors don't believe so. I can't fully speak for the doctors. Clearly at the end of last season, he took a slap shot in the neck area, back of the head area, in Long Island. He felt good after that and some time in the summer, he let us know that he was having headaches from time to time. It wasn't constant. We've spent time, Nolan spent the time, trying to get to the root of it. I think we feel comfortable now that it's a migraine issue. It's not a concussion, according to the doctors.

Nolan does have a history of migraines, going back to when he was younger — he had some in minor hockey, in junior hockey. There's a family history, as well. I think at this point, he feels relieved to know what it is. It's been periodic migraines and cluster headaches throughout the summer and I think he was concerned and we were concerned. The doctor feels that there's a regimen you can put him on and with medication, we can control the situation and we're hopeful.

- Fletcher

Fletcher said there's "a whole host" of things that can help with treatment.

"I'm not 100 percent sure," Fletcher said. "I know there's medication, there could be some dietary things. ... I don't want to speak too much because I don't know that I have all the answers.

"He's taking the medication now. We're hoping that settles down the migraines and gets him to feeling 100 percent from a health perspective. And then after that, he's skated a bit, but he's essentially missed all of training camp. He hasn't played games, he hasn't been in any battle drills, and we're going to have to make sure we get him the conditioning work that he needs.

"Hopefully by the time we get back from Europe, we'll have a better sense of where he's at from a health perspective. And then from there, all going well, it's just a matter of conditioning.

"We consulted a lot of different people and I think we feel we're in a good place medically and we'll hope for the best."

The Flyers have options at center. Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl can play the middle, and Connor Bunnaman is in the picture.

The Flyers' roster is at 27 players.

Forwards

Connor Bunnaman
Sean Couturier
Joel Farabee
Morgan Frost (injured)
Claude Giroux
Kevin Hayes
Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton
Oskar Lindblom
Nolan Patrick (injured)
Tyler Pitlick (injured)
Michael Raffl
Chris Stewart
Carsen Twarynski
James van Riemsdyk
Jakub Voracek

Defense

Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg
Samuel Morin
Philippe Myers
Matt Niskanen
Ivan Provorov
Travis Sanheim
Andy Welinski (injured)

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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With the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed up for grabs Saturday, the Flyers' No. 1 line will look differently and the reason for why is unknown.

What we do know is Jakub Voracek will not play in the Flyers' round-robin finale against the Lightning at Scotiabank Arena.

"He's not available," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Friday in a video interview, "that's all I can say for tomorrow."

As we learned during training camp when Voracek was absent from a scrimmage, there will be various levels of weirdness, uncertainty and inevitable speculation when a player is unavailable. Because of a mutual agreement between the NHL and NHLPA to respect an individual player's right to medical privacy during this time, clubs are not allowed to release specifications for any injuries/illnesses in the return-to-play 24-team tournament.

Naturally, time will tell about the severity of or length of time needed to return for Voracek's undisclosed absence.

Regardless, not having Voracek hurts the Flyers' chances to win the round robin. If the Flyers beat Tampa Bay, they'll secure the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed in the first round of the playoffs, which is slated to begin next Tuesday. If the Flyers lose to the Lightning, they'll settle for the No. 2 seed. The team has won its first two round-robin games by a combined score of 7-2 over the Bruins and Capitals.

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When the Flyers started rolling in November of the regular season, Voracek was one of the club's best players. Since Nov. 1, the facilitating winger had 47 points (eight goals, 39 assists) and a plus-14 rating in 58 games. He finished the regular season with a team-best 44 helpers, 56 points and a plus-14 mark in 69 games.

"Jake's got a unique skill set, a veteran guy that's been around and has played in some big games," Matt Niskanen said Friday in a video interview. "We'll welcome him when he comes back. In the meantime, keep chugging forward with the guys we have."

The Flyers will chug forward with 20-year-old rookie winger Joel Farabee climbing to an exciting spot in the lineup. He'll play on the first line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, while James van Riemsdyk will return to the lineup after being interestingly scratched for the Flyers' 3-1 win Thursday over the Capitals. Connor Bunnaman, a 22-year-old forward who will likely be an extra come the first round if the Flyers are healthy, played in van Riemsdyk's place.

"It was less about benching James than looking at the big picture," Vigneault said. "Yes, James had been OK, just OK so far, after having in my estimation a real strong training camp. But I wanted to get Joel in, I also wanted to get Bunny in at some point, and I felt with the opposition, that it was the right time. Probably less to do with benching, more to do with the big picture."

The 31-year-old van Riemsdyk will join the third line. Vigneault is known to communicate with his players when they're taken out of the lineup or there's a notable change. The two-time 30-goal scorer wouldn't disclose the message between the player and coach, but van Riemsdyk was positive Friday, taking everything in stride.

“With those types of conversations, generally like to keep those in-house," van Riemsdyk said.

“For me, I look back at my career and playing in the playoffs and all these things, I’ve had success doing that in the past. My approach is going to stay the same and try to be the best player I can be and maximize every day. That’s always the way I approach things no matter what, I love the game. We have a great team and have a great shot this year, so my motivation and approach remains consistent day in and day out. No matter if you have a day that doesn’t go your way or if you have a day where things are going well, you go to the next day and you have to do it all over again.”

On the defensive side of things, Shayne Gostisbehere will draw into the lineup for Robert Hagg. Vigneault and his coaching staff had wanted to get Gostisbehere some action in the round robin. They trust the 27-year-old defenseman who could give a boost to the Flyers' power play, which is 0 for 8 through the round robin. Expect to see Hagg back with Justin Braun when the first round begins.

Here is the Flyers' lineup for Saturday's round-robin finale:

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Derek Grant-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman-Nate Thompson-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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