CHICAGO — Nolan Patrick is a Flyer.
For only the second time in team history since the NHL draft has been conducted, the Flyers held the No. 2 overall pick.
And Friday night at United Center, the Flyers used that pick to select Patrick, a 6-foot-3, 198-pound Canadian forward, who played in Brandon this past season.
The 18-year-old centerman is considered NHL-ready, though he is not a lock to play for the Flyers this season. He will be given every reasonable chance to make the roster, according to general manager Ron Hextall.
The Flyers weren't certain Patrick would be their pick until New Jersey selected Swiss forward Nico Hischier, who played in Halifax, with the No. 1 pick.
"They're both two-way players," Hextall said this week. "They both make plays. They can both score goals. They both compete hard. Both should be top NHL players. Patrick's a little bit more looks for the right play and makes the play."
Because of several injuries, Patrick was limited to just 33 games for Brandon in the Western Hockey League last season. He scored 20 goals with 46 points — half as many goals as he had the previous season when healthy.
His NHL lineage is strong. His father Steve Patrick played 250 games with Buffalo, while his uncle James Patrick played 1,280 NHL games with four clubs (more on that here).
Nolan was rated No. 1 overall by NHL Central Scouting in its final rankings this spring.
Given the noticeable upsurge with the Sixers, who traded for the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA draft, and the positive vibes the team has generated these past two weeks, the Flyers are under pressure to give fans an exciting product this fall at the Wells Fargo Center.
Can Patrick deliver?
"He has more than proven over the last three years that he is the real deal and will be an impact NHL player," Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, said. "The poise, the presence, the attention to detail, the way he processes and executes plays — everything has been far more precise, far more accurate and a lot quicker this season."
It's possible the Flyers could have an opening night NHL roster with as many as six rookies on it: Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Mike Vecchione and perhaps a rookie goaltender as a backup.
Six is a lot of rookies for the Flyers.
"Well, I don't quite see it like you do," Hextall said, admitting he would be "surprised" if that were the number. "In a perfect world, you have two, three rookies on your team every year.
"There's a certain excitement, a certain influx of youth, that they infect the team with. It's kind of what you want every year. If we put two, three rookies in the lineup every year, that's terrific. Six is a little much."