June 30, 2017

Philadelphia Flyers No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick had a second abdominal surgery prior to being drafted and is expected to return to full activity in four to six weeks.

General manager Ron Hextall announced the surgery Friday, a week after the Flyers selected Patrick in the draft. Patrick missed three months last season with a similar injury.

At the scouting combine in early June, Patrick said he actually had a sports hernia on both sides and one was ''misdiagnosed.'' Philadelphia-based Dr. William Meyers performed the surgery June 13.

''Nolan was hurt last summer and it was repaired on the 13th,'' Hextall said on a conference call Friday.

''To me, that brought clarity to us in terms of what's been nagging him the whole year. There was something there. For us it was almost - I don't want to say it was a positive - but when you look at everything that happened to him during the year and in and out, now we know what the issue was.''

Sports hernia or abdominal surgeries are common for hockey players, though recovery times vary based on the severity of the original injury, type of operation and rehab.

Patrick went second in the draft behind Swiss center Nico Hischier, whom the New Jersey Devils selected first overall. Hextall said the Devils and Flyers brought Patrick in to be evaluated by their medical staffs.

It was during that visit in early June when the Flyers knew something was wrong. Agent Kevin Epp told the Flyers that Patrick wanted to get the surgery done before the draft to save him some time for summer training.

''I actually talked to Nolan (Thursday) and he says he feels terrific,'' Hextall said. ''We're excited that he had it done, he had it fixed by Dr. Meyers and we're looking forward to him being down here.''

The 18-year-old center who played for the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings could go back there or be in the NHL next season. Hextall expects Patrick to be 100 percent by training camp, but isn't rushing one of the organization's top prospects.

''We're looking at the big picture here,'' Hextall said. ''We're not looking at next season. We're looking at hopefully the next 10 to 15 seasons. We will do what's best for Nolan long term.''

NOTE: The Flyers have one glaring need when free agency begins Saturday: a starting goaltender. Hextall said ''the intent is to sign a goalie and then we'll wait and see if there's anybody else.'' Potential options include Calgary's Brian Elliott and Anaheim's Jonathan Bernier.

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