When the Philadelphia Flyers took him second overall, it was almost certain Nolan Patrick would debut this season. It would become official Sunday night with the final forward being cut. Two other members of the team got the good news as well. Defenseman Robert Hagg and forward Taylor Leier will also be on the roster to start the season
The team isn’t done making moves yet as they will still need to determine whether Sam Morin or Travis Sanheim will be making the team. An injury to Shayne Gostisbehere in their final preseason game has delayed that decision. But at least four rookies will end up making the team this season.
Nolan Patrick Makes Flyers Roster
When the Flyers jumped from 13th to 2nd in the draft lottery, they knew they would be getting a forward capable of making the team out of camp. It was either going to be Nico Hischier or Patrick. With the Devils taking Hischier, it left the Flyers with the easy decision to take Patrick. The former Brandon Wheat King was coming off abdominal surgery, with a second one to follow.
Despite the surgery and being limited to only 33 games, Patrick contributed with 20 goals and 26 assists. In his three seasons in the WHL, Patrick finished with 92 goals and 113 assists in 163 games. Coming into the draft and camp, it was either make the Flyers roster or head back to Brandon for one more season.
The Flyers gave Patrick plenty of opportunities to prove his case as he was one of two players to appear in all seven preseason games. He recorded three assists along with 11 shots in those games. He also had the opportunity to appear on the team’s powerplay unit.
Patrick has spent most of camp centering a line along with Wayne Simmonds and Jordan Weal. It would be no surprise to see this continue if the team continues using Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier on their top line
“Obviously it’s been really exciting. Growing up my goal was to play in the NHL so to hear that new is obviously pretty exciting. And I know my family is pretty excited for me.” Patrick said on making the Flyers roster.
And he wasn’t the only one who got to hear that news on Sunday night.
Robert Haag, Taylor Leier Make Flyers Roster
There’s still decisions to come involving the defense, but Hagg knows that he will be on the opening night roster. It won’t be his debut, as he appeared in one game last season.
Coming into camp, Hagg had a lot to prove. After a 2015-16 season that had many questioning his development, he showed it was his time. While he isn’t flashy offensively like Sanheim or big-bodied like Morin, Hagg brings a different skill set. He showed in six preseason games that he is able to log heavy minutes and play a steady game against tough competition.
“I’m pretty happy, was kind of nervous when I walked in there, but after meeting I was extremely happy to make the team” Hagg said on making the team.
Leier has had an up-and-down road to the NHL. With the amount of depth the team had, Leier found it tough to stick on the Flyers roster. During the past two seasons, he appeared in 16 games for the Flyers. In those 16 games, Leier had just one goal and one assist.
Last year’s AHL All-Star MVP will get another chance to show why he belongs in the NHL for good. His production during the preseason put him off to a good start. On a line with Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl, the trio has been able to improve the Flyers fourth line look. The three combined for nine points during the preseason. Leier himself had two goals and an assist in four games.
The ability to add skill to a fourth line along with being able to play significant time on the penalty kill was helpful in Leier making the roster.
One Surprising Cut
While three rookies have made the team so far, there is one who won’t be making his debut opening night. Oskar Lindblom was sent to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after Sunday night’s game. After seeming like a lock coming into camp, he will spend time in the AHL to begin the season.
Lindblom was scratched in three of the final four preseason games. Before that, however, it appeared Lindblom was on track to make the team. He had two points in four games and saw time on the top powerplay unit. But things quickly changed after that.
Hextall's answer to my question regarding the split between the first half of Lindblom's camp and 2nd half, when he was sparsely-used. pic.twitter.com/QieguHlRWi
This won’t be the first time that Lindblom is seeing time with the Phantoms. He had an eight-game run towards the end of the 2015-16 season. He tallied two goals and five assists in those games. If he is able to produce like that again, his stint in the AHL may be a short one. He will likely appear in the NHL at some point this season, but it won’t be opening night.
Final Defensive Cut Delayed
With Gostisbehere’s status unknown for opening night, both Morin and Sanheim will be traveling with the team to open the season. To make this possible, the Flyers needed to clear a roster spot as this would leave them with 24 players on their roster. Matt Read was placed on waivers Monday afternoon.
If he isn’t claimed off waivers and Gostisbehere can’t play, Read will begin the season with the Phantoms. If Gostisbehere is healthy enough to play Wednesday, the team will likely send down either Morin or Sanheim. This move gives the Flyers flexibility as their roster needs to be at 23 players by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.