PHILADELPHIA — Flyers rookie Nolan Patrick is nearing a return from a lengthy absence due to a suspected concussion.
General manager Ron Hextall said Saturday he hopes the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft will be able to practice Monday. Patrick missed his eighth straight game Saturday night against Minnesota.
"He skates early in the morning, so he’s been on the ice," Hextall said. "But there’s a big difference being on the ice by yourself and being on the ice with your teammates. So he has work to do."
Hextall said the 19-year-old forward will travel with the team on its two-game trip next week to Minnesota and Patrick’s native Winnipeg,
"It would be pretty cool to play in my hometown," Patrick told reporters after skating on his own Saturday morning.
Patrick was injured when his head slammed against the glass after a legal check in a home game against Anaheim on Oct. 24. Patrick changed into a suit and watched the third period of that game from the press box and then practiced the next day.
But he was scratched when the Flyers visited Ottawa on Oct. 26 and hasn’t played since. Hextall insisted Patrick hasn’t experienced any setbacks.
"But obviously there hasn’t been enough progress, or he’d have been playing," Hextall said.
The 6-foot-2 right-handed shot made the team despite not scoring a goal in the preseason. Patrick has one goal and two assists in nine games while centring Philadelphia’s third line.
Injuries slowed Patrick before he reached the NHL. He had two abdominal surgeries and also has dealt with shoulder issues.
"I’ve had my fair share of injuries over the last few years so I know how to handle them at this point," Patrick said. "I don’t really get frustrated with them. It’s part of the game. Getting frustrated isn’t going to help you heal any faster."