New Jersey Devils: Signing Nolan Patrick Could Be Full Circle Moment

Nico Hischier, Miro Heiskanen, and Nolan Patrick. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Nico Hischier, Miro Heiskanen, and Nolan Patrick. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils had a very hard decision to make in 2017, with Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier standing out as the two top picks in that year’s NHL Draft. Obviously, the Devils made the right choice between the two (although the choice between Cale Makar, Miro Heiskanen, and Elias Pettersson is much more debatable), but now they have a unique opportunity to bring Hischier and Patrick together.

Obviously, Patrick has had a terrible career. He’s faced injury issues, inconsistent offensive production, and he’s been traded multiple times already. Now, he’s facing free agency after the Vegas Golden Knights avoided his qualifying offer.

Patrick can sign with any team in the NHL. We’re almost a month since free agency started, and no rumors have been tied to Patrick. His injury history has a lot to do with that, but it might also be Patrick waiting for the right team to ease him back into an NHL schedule.

Let’s be clear because there are a thousand Devils fans foaming at the mouth at this notion. Patrick might not play hockey again. His injury issues could be career ending. However, there has been no confirmation of that. In fact, there hasn’t even been an inkling of that. He’s had migraine issues, but that can be managed with the right medicine regimen, certain rehab types, and other methods.

The Devils are also pretty stacked at the forward position. They signed Tomas Nosek on top of re-signing Michael McLeod and Erik Haula this offseason. Add them to Jack Hughes, Hischier, and Dawson Mercer, and this team is pretty set at the position for now.

The issue is depth. The Devils don’t have a lot of center depth outside of who we named. While multiple winger prospects can jump in if someone gets hurt, the Devils’ best center prospect is Shane Bowers, who the Devils just added in the Reilly Walsh trade.

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Patrick would give the Devils much-needed depth at the position. The Devils are dealing with a lot of forwards this offseason, but Patrick has a higher ceiling than any of the other players fighting for roster spots. Even when Patrick was healthy, he was a decent player. Was he anywhere close to Hischier, Pettersson, Makar, or Heiskanen? Of course not, but he can be a decent bottom-six contributor.