Relax, Flyers fans.
After a second straight summer rehabbing from abdominal surgery, center Nolan Patrick, the second overall pick in the June draft, said he felt 100 percent healthy when he made his Flyers debut at rookie camp Monday in Voorhees.
Patrick, who will turn 19 on Sept. 19, said he started to feel totally healthy about three weeks ago.
“That’s kind of when all the pain was gone,” he said. “I was feeling good on the ice and got my conditioning back. … I hadn’t been 100 percent in a while.”
“I thought he had a good day,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought he looked strong … and looked pretty comfortable, and that’s a good sign for day one.”
Patrick began skating in July and said he was cautious at first and “kind of eased into it” before gradually pushing himself as the pain from the surgery subsided. He was on the ice three or four times a week during his rehab, and worked out with a few NHL players, including Chicago star Jonathan Toews, near Winnipeg.
“I did a lot of mobility stuff,” he said. “That and the conditioning were the two things I focused on.”
Training with Toews was beneficial, Patrick said.
“He’s a really intelligent guy, one of the best guys I’ve ever met,” Patrick said. “We’d be here all day if I listed the things he taught me. He’s a really smart guy and he knows a lot about different kinds of training and nutrition and stuff like that, so he was big for me.”
Patrick recently played in a few exhibition games with his Brandon junior team, and he centered Connor Bunnaman and Anthony Salintri at rookie camp Monday.
“I’m not holding back at all now,” he said. “I’m 100 percent and there are no limitations going into battles.”
Patrick was asked whether he thought he could earn a roster spot this season.
“I think so. That’s my goal coming in,” he said. “I’m just going to compete as hard as I can and try to earn a spot.”
“We’ll see his progression as he goes through camp,” Hakstol said. “Sometimes as young players, there’s different points in camp where you see guys hit a bit of a wall. Most often for the guys who are ready to be here, they just keep building. Even though there’s some ups and downs, energy-wise, they’re able to keep building their work level in camp. … As you go to main camp, it’s going to be tougher.”
Patrick and the other prospects will get a chance to impress the brass Wednesday night in a rookie game at the sold-out Wells Fargo Center against the New York Islanders.
“It’ll be really exciting. I haven’t played a game in a while, so I’m looking forward to that,” said Patrick, who collected 46 points, including 20 goals, in 33 junior games with Brandon last season, a campaign that was limited because of injuries.
The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Patrick missed the Flyers’ development camp in July because he was still recovering from surgery, which was performed 10 days before they drafted him.
Patrick said he now feels more explosive than he did before his first abdominal surgery in 2016. That’s a good sign for a player who, along with the rookies Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, and Oskar Lindblom, has a good chance to make the team this season.
“Guys should be excited,” said Hakstol, who wasn’t referring to any players in particular. “There’s guys who are in position hopefully to have good camps and take advantage of those opportunities.”