3:00 PM: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has reported that Nolan Patrick has not officially retired from the NHL, despite previous reports. Friedman shared that Patrick declined to comment further.
11:00 AM: Former Flyers and Golden Knights center Nolan Patrick has officially retired from the NHL, multiple sources reported Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The 25-year-old was an unrestricted free agent and has not played since March 2022 due to a migraine disorder. The Flyers’ 2017 second-overall pick and son of former NHL winger Steve Patrick has been hired as a skills coach by The Power Play, a hockey coaching program run by former NHL forward Jayce Hawryluk.
It’s been challenging to watch Patrick’s consistent migraine issues for all hockey fans. After a 2015-16 season in which Patrick finished fifth in WHL scoring with 41 goals, 61 assists and 102 points in 71 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings, he was viewed as the slam-dunk first-overall pick in the upcoming 2017 draft.
However, Patrick’s significant injury issues began during the 2016 WHL Playoffs. He sustained a sports hernia injury late in the postseason and, despite having prompt surgery to repair the hernia, complications would arise from the surgery early in the 2016-17 season. Those complications limited him to 33 games with Brandon that year, and although he still excelled with 20 goals and 46 points, his point-production pace took a small step backward from the year before. He also missed the chance to play for Canada in that year’s World Junior Championship, leading eventual Devils captain Nico Hischier to usurp him as the first-overall selection in 2017.
Patrick signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers promptly after the draft. However, the team quickly announced Patrick would miss their offseason development activities as he was recovering from a second abdominal surgery performed just days before the draft. Thankfully, it didn’t stop him from being a full-time player at age 19 during his rookie season with the Flyers, in which he logged 13 goals and 30 points in 73 games while averaging 13:43 per game. The season didn’t result in any Calder Trophy recognition, but it did seem like his development into a future star in Philadelphia was back on track. Unfortunately, his 73 games and 13 goals would both be career-highs.
He was able to stay the course and avoid injury issues in the 2018-19 campaign, but his point production didn’t break out like most expected. Playing in 72 games, he matched last season’s goal total and added one more assist, essentially putting up the same stat line despite an increase in ice time.
However, during the following offseason, the Flyers announced Patrick had been diagnosed with a migraine disorder, which the diagnosing physician believed to be genetic and not related to a hockey injury. While he would begin skating with the team months into the season, the COVID pandemic started shortly after that, and he could not participate in the league’s Return to Play protocol, keeping him out for the entirety of the 2019-20 campaign. That was the first of two seasons Patrick would be held out entirely due to migraine issues.
A restricted free agent after the expiration of his entry-level contract, Patrick signed a one-year qualifying offer to remain with the team and cleared medical protocols to begin the 2020-21 season on the active roster, playing his first NHL game in nearly two full calendar years. He was still feeling the effects of his migraine disorder, however, and it reflected in his performance. By any metric, Patrick was one of the worst players in the league that year, posting four goals and nine points in 52 games with a staggering -30 rating, the worst on a Flyers team that failed to make the playoffs but still finished above the .500 mark.
Logically, that season led both the Flyers and Patrick to want an amicable departure and a fresh start for the former high-flying prospect. In July 2021, the Flyers traded Patrick to the Golden Knights in the ill-fated three-way trade with the Predators that saw high-end defenseman Ryan Ellis end up with the Flyers. Ellis played just four games in a Philadelphia sweater before a poorly-handled injury to his psoas muscle ended his career.
After acquiring his signing rights, Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon, who had presided over Patrick’s junior tenure in Brandon, signed him to a two-year, $2.4MM contract. With his migraine disorder still ongoing, however, Patrick would play just 25 games for Vegas in 2021-22, recording two goals and seven points while averaging 11:30 per game. He was one of many Golden Knights players who missed significant time that season, leading the franchise to miss the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
While Patrick was under contract with Vegas last season, he remained on long-term injured reserve for the whole campaign and did not suit up in any games en route to the Golden Knights’ run to the 2023 Stanley Cup. Vegas did not tender Patrick a qualifying offer last summer, and thus, he became an unrestricted free agent. The Winnipeg-born center finishes his NHL career with 32 goals, 45 assists, 77 points, and a -36 rating across 222 games.
All of us at PHR wish Patrick health and fulfillment in his post-playing career.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.