Here’s every NHL team’s player to watch break out this year

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 10: Nolan Patrick
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 10: Nolan Patrick /
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Philadelphia Flyers: Nolan Patrick

The deal with Nolan Patrick is that he’s expected to be a breakout player any second now. Chosen No. 2 overall in 2017, the rookie had a middling 13 goals, 17 assists and 30 points in 73 games with the orange and black.

But he faced serious challenges, and we’re not just referring to being a rookie with sky-high expectations in Santa-booing Philly. Patrick missed nine games from October into November of his first NHL season with a concussion, which came when he was still getting his timing back after offseason surgery to fix a nagging abdominal injury.

Despite this injury history, which might have scared off other teams, the Flyers gambled with their high pick — perhaps because of his strong NHL lineage, which includes uncle James (1,280 career NHL games) father Steve (250 career NHL games) and uncle Rich Chernomaz (51 career NHL games).

And that faith seemed to pay off for the Flyers and Patrick late in the season, when he had 17 points in his last 25 games, which projects to 55 points over 82 games. Still not chart-topping, sure, but that momentum is going in the right direction. Sean Couturier will slot in as the No. 1 center, but Patrick’s development gave the Flyers enough confidence to ditch No. 2 Valtteri Filppula, meaning you’ll see a boost in Patrick’s 13:43 per game from last season.