Shortly before the NHL Draft, when the Flyers brought potential first-round pick Nolan Patrick in to meet with team doctors, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said the organization now had more "clarity" about the exact nature of his physical issues from last season.
On Friday, one week after selecting Patrick with the second overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft and a few weeks after Patrick said his medical condition had been originally misdiagnosed as a single sports hernia rather than hernias on both sides of his lower abdomen, the Flyers revealed that Patrick underwent sports hernia repair surgery on June 13. The procedure was performed by Dr. William Meyers.
Patrick will be sidelined four-to-six weeks. He will not participate in on-ice activities at the Flyers' upcoming Development Camp (July 7-12). However, according to Hextall, the timetable is of of a projected full rehab and clearance to play hockey -- not one to simply to begin skating.
The prospect plans to spend most of the summer in Philadelphia working out. He is not expected to miss training camp in September and the start of preseason games.
Speaking to reporters in a conference call, Hextall said that after finding out about the exact nature of Patrick's issues, he felt an increased comfort level in drafting the Brandon Wheat Kings star. While Hextall said he didn't want to point fingers by using the word misdiagnosis by the doctors in Brandon, he said that if the problem had been corrected last summer, Patrick likely would have been healthy this past season.
Hextall said that Patrick, even after his return to the Wheat Kings' lineup, was still having discomfort and showed some moxie by trying to play through it. Additionally, it was Patrick himself who took the initiative to have the surgery on June 13, because he didn't want to lose weeks of preparation time for next season. Had it been done at the Flyers' behest, the surgery probably would have happened about two weeks later.
The Flyers' GM would not bite on questions regarding whether he anticipates Patrick playing in the NHL next season. As is his norm, Hextall said his focus was on the big picture of doing what is best for Patrick over the next decade to 15 years and not on whether the soon-to-be 19-year-old center makes the Flyers roster right out of camp this year.
As Tim Panaccio discusses in depth elsewhere on this site
, the Flyers only likely NHL-level free agency move on July 1 is to sign a new veteran goaltender to share the crease with Michal Neuvirth.
At the end of the Nolan conference call, Hextall was asked about the team's plans in free agency. He neither confirmed nor denied the widespread reports that the team will announce the signing of Brian Elliott (reportedly to a two-year deal carrying a $2.75 million cap hit) but said the plan is to sign a goaltender tomorrow when the free agency period officially begins. That is likely to be the Flyers' only move.
With the signing of Jordan Weal, the team will not pursue a veteran forward on July 1 (the team allegedly had discussions with ex-Flyer Justin Williams) but will continue to explore the market after the initial rush to see if there are good bargains that make sense.
Hextall did not rule out eventually adding a forward or defenseman for added depth or for training camp competition but said he did not want to "box out" young players over the summer. It is possible that the Flyers could make a signing or two geared primarily toward the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Most notably, the Flyers have been linked to unrestricted free agent forward Kenny Agostino as a potential depth signing.