It didn't take long for coach Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to show which players he expects to form the team's No. 2 line.
On the first day of training camp Friday, Hakstol had Nolan Patrick centering left winger James van Riemsdyk and right winger Jake Voracek.
Patrick looked much more advanced than at this time last year, when he was still battling back from offseason abdominal surgery. It took him until about halfway through his rookie season to start to resemble the player who had dominated juniors and was taken No. 2 overall in the 2017 draft.
"For sure, there's a difference, probably at every different level, including his confidence level off the ice," Hakstol said Friday. "He's been through it for a year, and equally as important, he's now been able to be through a summer healthy, and I think that's a huge benefit for him. … We see it in his testing results, and I thought he had a pretty good day with his linemates."
Patrick, who will turn 20 Wednesday, appears more explosive than last season.
"He's stronger, faster," the 29-year-old Voracek said. "He's a big boy. Obviously, when a big guy is having surgery, especially on the lower body, it's harder to come back. With him being healthy this year, you can't even tell" he had surgery.
Patrick, who scored 13 goals last season, said there was a "good pace" to the first day of camp. He said it was advantageous to train this summer without having to rehab from a surgery.
"It was nice not to have limitations; it was fun to be able to work out and do everything I wanted to do, so it was a good summer," Patrick said.
It was only one day, but Patrick's line worked well together Friday.
"It was as much chemistry as you can have for one skate together," Patrick said.
Patrick and Voracek played together last season, and van Riemsdyk was occasionally on Voracek's line in 2011-12, during the big left winger's first stint with the Flyers.
"Obviously, I'm comfortable with Jake; we played together quite a bit last year," Patrick said. "And obviously, JVR is an unbelievable player. You can just tell from one skate that he sees the ice so well. The short passes he can make and the plays he makes, it's going to be fun to have a chance to play with him."
Van Riemsdyk, a 36-goal scorer with Toronto last season, signed a seven-year, $35 million deal with the Flyers in July.
He played for six years in Toronto with basically the same linemates, "so obviously there's some adjustments to make," said van Riemsdyk, 29. " … Today I was with some pretty talented players, so it's exciting. We had some decent chemistry for the start, and hopefully we'll have a chance to work on that through camp and going forward."
Wayne Simmonds said his return to health, the development of the younger players, and the addition of van Riemsdyk "makes us a really deep team. It allows us to do a lot of different things with the lineup, and I'm excited for this year."