About to ‘get After It,' Nolan Patrick Ready for ‘big Steps'

Nolan Patrick is no slouch in the strength and speed departments.

The 19-year-old is 6-foot-2, 198 pounds and showed deceptive bursts of giddy-up during his rookie season as the games grew bigger.

Imagine him after a full summer of training?

Patrick, already polished when it comes to being in front of the cameras, had his arms crossed and usual game face on - despite little emotion, he was picturing it.

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"It's exciting. First time I can get after it," he said last week at his end-of-the-season press conference. "It's going to be a big summer for me. I'm not satisfied with how the year was or how my year was, so I'm looking to take big steps here."

Summer is a precious time for hockey players. It's when they can hammer away at specific areas to improve, especially with their bodies and skill sets.

Patrick hasn't been so lucky. His past two summers were marred by surgery and recovery. Prior to his final junior season and all-important draft year, Patrick underwent sports hernia surgery. Then, last June, he had abdominal surgery 10 days before the Flyers selected him No. 2 overall.

Sounds like this is the summer of Nolan Patrick.

"I'm just excited to be able to move," Patrick said. "I couldn't even run last summer. I only had about a month last summer to train, so I'm really excited to take a couple weeks off and then get after it. It's going to be some tough work but I'm excited for it."

Aside from moving and getting stronger, Patrick wants to focus on his shot this offseason while working with his skills coach. Last summer, so much was just about getting on the ice and being prepared enough for training camp.

Once Patrick started gaining back his mobility post surgery and following a nine-game absence because of a concussion, the big-bodied center turned it on, solidifying his role as the team's second-line center and joining the first-unit power play.

With each game, Patrick became more and more conspicuous. When the playoffs arrived, he was one of the Flyers' best forwards during the first-round exit to the Penguins.

"I think it was pretty noticeable when I got confident, I was a different player out there," Patrick said. "It was a big part of my game."

In Patrick's first 40 contests, he put up nine points (three goals, six assists) and a minus-3 rating. Over his final 33 regular-season games, he finished with 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) and a plus-4 mark.

"You just saw as the year went on, he got comfortable and confident and you started to see exactly why he was the second overall pick," Travis Konecny said. "He's a pretty unique player, not a lot of guys like him - big body, really good hands and pretty reliable."

Sean Couturier, a player with Patrick's type of two-way, all-around game, sees the future with him.

"He's another one of the guys who's just going to take over this team eventually and lead us," Couturier said. "He's got a lot of talent. He's smart. He's really mature for his age. Just the way he plays, the way he handles himself on and off the ice."

That should only improve this offseason. And if Patrick needs any motivation, he can recall his last two summers and how it impacted the introduction of his NHL dream.

"It was a bad start for me. I wasn't doing much to help the team win," Patrick said. "I kind of turned it around as much as I could and tried to contribute as much as I could. No excuses for you guys this summer for next year's start. It's going to be a big summer for me."

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