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Nolan Patrick Appears Likely To Miss Entire 2022-23 Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Injuries. They’re story that have followed former #2 overall pick Nolan Patrick for longer than anyone would have ever wanted.

It goes all the way back to his early days in the Western Hockey League. It started the very first year after he was drafted by the Brandon Wheat Kings. While playing with the Winnipeg Thrashers in 2013-14, Patrick was summoned to join the Wheat Kings due to a rash of injuries the team was having. However, a shoulder injury kept Patrick from heading to Brandon.

The following year, 2014-15, Patrick missed 17 games of his rookie season with an undisclosed lower-body injury. He was able to play every game in his second season in Brandon but underwent surgery for a sports hernia after year concluded. That same injury lingered into the 2016-17 season as Patrick missed nearly half the season with complications from the surgery.

Then, after being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers, Patrick stepped right into the NHL as 19-year-old and managed to pot 13 goals and 30 points in 73 games. He missed just nine games his rookie year and ten the following. Things took a turn for the worse after his second season though.

Patrick was diagnosed with a migraine disorder that was described as “not related to hockey,” but instead something that was hereditary. This caused him to miss the entire 2019-20 season. He appeared close to returning prior to the COVID shutdown in March 2020, but when the league started back up, he was not on the Philadelphia roster.

That meant 650 days had elapsed between NHL appearances when Patrick stepped on the ice again for the Flyers on January 13th, 2021. He was in the lineup for 52 of the next 56 games, only missing a few after taking a puck to the ear from a teammate’s shot.

Next, he was traded to the Golden Knights, where the hope was that he’d get a brand new start in the NHL. Unfortunately, Patrick suffered an upper-body injury on October 22nd in Vegas’ fourth game of the year. He returned to action just as the calendar turned to 2022, missing 30 games along the way.

A little more than a month later, Patrick took a nasty hit to the head from Nathan MacKinnon. This was described as a concussion and kept him out for a little less than a month. Finally, on March 24th, Patrick left the game against the Predators in the 1st period and did not return the rest of the season.

This summer, the update on Patrick from Kelly McCrimmon was focused much more on Patrick’s well-being off the ice.

I talked to Nolan a couple of weeks ago and there’s no significant progress. He’s got a couple of things that they are working with our medical team they are going to look at doing to hopefully move this along. When these injuries linger you really have to boil it down to just life stuff. Just get to the point where everyday life starts to feel normal again. Then, when you get to that point you can talk about what lies ahead. I think right now focusing on hockey is putting the cart ahead of the horse. Some stability with day-to-day is what we are shooting for first and then we’ll see what happens after that. -McCrimmon on July 14th, 2022

A few days ago, on the 32 Thoughts Podcast, NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman expounded.

I had heard a rumor in the summer that Nolan Patrick was going to retire and I was told that’s not the case. Nolan Patrick has a salary for this year of $1.2 million, so there’s no point in him retiring as he has a salary to collect. I don’t really want to editorialize other than I wish him the best, but I think there are a lot of people who would be surprised to see him play this year, and they wonder about his future as well. Hopefully, everything works out for him. -Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Obviously, the most important piece of all of this is the health of the player at hand. No matter the ramifications for the team on the ice, no one ever wants to see a player’s life impacted off it.

That being said, it appears the Golden Knights will have to plan on not having Patrick available any time this year, and possibly never again. Patrick’s contract expires at the end of this season when he becomes a restricted free agent.

Philadelphia Flyers Senior Advisor: “None Of Our Scouts Wanted Nolan Patrick”

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

The Golden Knights and Nolan Patrick have always been connected, even if it took until 2021 for Patrick to finally become a Golden Knight.

As a top prospect for the Brandon Wheat Kings, it was understood that Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon would want him in Vegas. Heck, we even wrote an article on this site nearly six years ago considering the possibility.

But when the ping pong balls fell the way they did before the 2017 Draft, it became fairly clear Patrick was going to go well before the Golden Knights had a chance to make their first pick.

In the end, Patrick went #2 overall to the Philadelphia Flyers sandwiched between Nico Hischier, Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, and Elias Petterson, before the Golden Knights selected fellow WHL standout Cody Glass at #6.

Patrick went on to play at the NHL level fairly quickly, racking up 73 games in 2017-18, while Glass didn’t make his Golden Knights debut until opening night of 2019-20.

We now know the history that neither Patrick nor Glass flourished with the team that drafted them and they were eventually traded for each other in a three-way deal that landed Patrick in Las Vegas. So far, it hasn’t been a great start with their new teams for either player.

Yesterday, appearing on the Cam and Strick Podcast, Philadelphia Flyers senior advisor, and legendary former player, Bobby Clarke, shared some enlightening details into the draft process that led the Flyers to select Patrick.

(Flyers GM Ron Hextall) shut his door. He locked the doors, he was boss and nobody else was part of it. We end up drafting, with the 2nd pick in the Draft, Nolan Patrick. None of our scouts wanted Nolan Patrick. I don’t know where Patrick should have gone after his performances in Brandon, he’s a pretty good player, but our scouts wanted Makar, of course, he went next, and now he’s a superstar and Patrick hasn’t played much. –Bobby Clarke on the Cam and Strick Podcast

Pretty damning stuff about a player the Golden Knights currently have in their everyday lineup.

Patrick has played just nine games this season, missing nearly two months with an undisclosed injury. He’s been noticeable at times on the ice in Vegas but has just tallied three points while averaging 13 minutes a night.

In the end, McCrimmon finally got his guy, but hearing from Clarke has to make you wonder what might have been had the Flyers listened to their scouts and selected Makar.

Can The Golden Knights “Find” Three Goals Per Game?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After Wednesday’s loss to the St. Louis Blues, Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said his team needed to find a way to score three goals per night. Averaging 3+ goals per game almost guarantees an NHL team, and specifically the Golden Knights, a victory or at worse an overtime loss.

In 2020-21, the Golden Knights were 35-2-1 when they scored three or more goals in a game. Also, ten games ended in an overtime period or shootouts capturing at least one point.

So let’s pretend the Golden Knights will be without their weapons for 20 games. It could be more, hopefully less, but the length of time Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone are on the shelf won’t matter for this exercise.

The idea here is to try and add up averages to see if it’s actually possible for this lineup as currently constructed to reach three goals consistently.

Thanks to DeBoer, he solved the first part of the equation for us.

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Golden Knights Can’t Afford To Wait For Power Play To Come Around

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

4 for 43.

It’s a number that has been on the mind of every Golden Knight, every coach, and every member of the front office through the offseason and into the new year.

The Golden Knights were shutout on the power play against the Montreal Canadiens (0 for 15) contributing to an NHL worst 9.3% power play in the 2021 playoffs. In fact, it was actually the worst conversion percentage of any team to play at least 17 playoff games since power play stats started being kept in 1977-78.

It must improve.

As a group we all have to be better, individual players, the coaches, the additions, all those things. I think the fresh start will help. I really believe the power play, like the penalty kill, is a real confidence-based piece of your game. When it starts to snowball the wrong way, everything goes in. I think we fell into that last year. -Pete DeBoer

DeBoer’s hope is that the offseason will go a long way towards a reset on a unit that played an integral part in the Golden Knights’ demise.

It was really average during the regular season and obviously it was well below average during the playoffs. So I think the break, the reset, the additions, the challenge of everybody being better, it’s going to be better. -DeBoer

He’s not relying on just time to heal the wound though.

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DeBoer Committed To Using Depth Forwards More On Penalty Kill

As the Golden Knights head into the 2021-22 season there’s not a lot they want to change. They’ve been to the conference finals in back-to-back seasons, they tied for the President’s Trophy last year, and they’ve been consistently one of the winningest teams in the NHL since their inception.

But, since they haven’t reached the mountaintop yet they know they can’t stand pat and expect things to be different this time around.

Speaking with the media on the first day of Training Camp, head coach Pete DeBoer clued us in to one such place he’s looking for change in his forward group.

What we saw last year was I felt we overplayed some of our top guys, especially penalty killing situations. When we talked in the summer about building this team out with Kelly and George, I’m a big believer that we’ve got to have at least a couple penalty killers in the depth of the lineup so that you’re not overtaxing the top guys, you can save them a little for offensive situations. -DeBoer

Last season, the Golden Knights’ primary penalty killers were William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Mark Stone, and Chandler Stephenson, all top-six players.

Regular Season PK TOI
Total (Per/game)

William Karlsson – 99:29 (1:47)
Reilly Smith – 91:02 (1:43)
Mark Stone – 74:12 (1:21)
Chandler Stephenson – 69:47 (1:22)
Tomas Nosek – 51:04 (1:21)
Alex Tuch – 41:24 (0:45)
Nic Roy – 41:14 (0:49)

Playoffs PK TOI
Total (Per/game)

William Karlsson – 24:21 (1:17)
Reilly Smith – 26:09 (1:23)
Mark Stone – 25:48 (1:21)
Chandler Stephenson – 23:14 (1:27)
Tomas Nosek -4:04 (0:41)
Alex Tuch – 11:36 (0:37)
Nic Roy – 10:16 (0:32)

With Tomas Nosek off to Detroit and Alex Tuch injured for the first few months, this concept of using depth players to penalty kill opens the door for a number of guys. The chief among them is newly acquired Brett Howden.

Howden has averaged 1:44 of penalty killing time per game over the past few seasons for the Rangers and has been reliable doing it. This could be a hint that Howden has an inside track into the Golden Knights’ lineup early in the season.

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With Training Camp Underway GM McCrimmon Happy For Some Normalcy

(Photo by Brandon Andreasen)

Golden Knights training camp begins today representing the return of the players and finally the fans. The start of a normally scheduled camp has the Golden Knights brass ecstatic as well. The Golden Knights’ GM addressed the media yesterday to give his expectations on training camp and making another chase for the Stanley Cup.

Really excited about 82 games. Really excited about playing 31 other teams. Last year was a challenge for a lot of people and for a lot of different reasons. We’re really optimistic that this will feel a lot more like a normal NHL season. We’re pleased with our offseason, pleased with the makeup of our team as we head into the season. -Kelly McCrimmon, Vegas GM

While the GM was satisfied with his offseason changes he’s also eager to learn more about what’s in the cupboard. Entering their fifth NHL season, Vegas’ front office would like to add contributions from some of their more experienced prospects.

I always get excited about the evolution of young players. I’m excited to see Keegan Kolesar, Dylan Coghlan, Nic Hague, Nic Roy, that group of young players. I’m excited to see their progression because that’s a big part of how your team improves. Zach Whitecloud, still a young player. I’m excited to see those players. -McCrimmon

The list of players the Golden Knights GM rattled off are under contract for one more season before entering restricted free agency. Of course, it’s an established roster but the Golden Knights at some point will need impact from the younger generation. McCrimmon also mentioned centers Nolan Patrick and Brett Howden but there are different expectations considering both are new to the organization.

Coach Pete DeBoer will have the luxury of roughly three weeks and seven preseason games to examine his younger players. DeBoer will need some to quickly become everyday NHL players. There may not be many openings in Vegas’ opening day roster but there could be bottom-six minutes up for grabs.

This year has seven preseason games, last year did not. I think there’s real value in that. Not only for your veteran players but it’s a great opportunity for young guys… I believe our forwards as a group are better than they’ve been at any point in our existence. I think we made our team better at the forward position. -McCrimmon

McCrimmon stated, and few would disagree, Vegas has a roster that only a handful of teams can match. The general manager never mentioned direct expectations but the goal has to be the same under The Creator’s ownership.

With the franchise’s best-ever forward unit, star-studded defense, and superb goaltending, it has to be a Cup or Bust type mentality behind closed doors. Expect another fun ride.

Roster Battles Incredibly Limited At 2021 VGK Training Camp

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When you take a hard look at the Golden Knights roster you’ll quickly realize there aren’t many question marks when it comes to lineup construction. The top-six is all but guaranteed to remain intact, the entire blue line is locked in, and there’s no longer a goalie competition for either the starting role or the backup.

There are at least 15 players out of the allowed 20 that will dress on October 12th we can essentially write in with a Sharpie marker. There would actually be a 16th if Alex Tuch were healthy, but his injury leaves at least one more spot open for discussion.

Of course, the lines and pairs could shift, but here are the names that I’d be willing to go out on a limb and guarantee (if healthy) are in the lineup in 27 days at T-Mobile Arena.

Pacioretty-Stephenson-Stone
Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Janmark-(Open)-Dadonov
(Open)-(Open)-(Open)

Martinez-Pietrangelo
McNabb-Theodore
(Open)-Whitecloud

Lehner
Brossoit

Thus, there are reasonably five slots that could be interchangeable.

At forward, there are five players currently under one-way NHL contracts. William Carrier, Brett Howden, Keegan Kolesar, Nic Roy, and Patrick Brown. Then, there’s Nolan Patrick who is an RFA but will likely have a contract prior to Opening Night. Throw in the waiver-exempt Peyton Krebs, Jack Dugan, and Lucas Elvenes and we’re looking at a group of nine players with a chance of suiting up against the Seattle Kraken.

Roy is probably the closest player in this group to having a guaranteed spot in the lineup, especially considering his strong postseason and massive goal in Game 4 against the Canadiens.  The other three spots truly represent the only roster competition in VGK Training Camp.

Kolesar would seem to have the next strongest case considering he was protected against waivers for the entire 2020-21 season. His game certainly progressed over the year and there’s really no reason to believe they’d be willing to risk him on waivers this year when they were in an even tighter spot a year ago.

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