The second in a two-part series. 

The Flyers open the on-ice portion of training camp on Sept. 15 with rookie camp beginning on Sept. 11. General manager Ron Hextall will have some tough decisions to make. Before those calls have to be made, he sat down with Flyers reporter Dave Isaac to go over a variety of topics.

DI: Part of why Nolan Patrick is getting a lot of attention is when you look down the middle of your lineup and see Claude Giroux at the top, he’s struggled the last several seasons. What’s your concern level with him? Not even just last year, when his 5-on-5 numbers really dipped, his production has declined for the last several years.

RH: Well, it’s not fair just to look at Claude because when you look at that you’ve got to look at your team as well. In some of the years that he produced really big numbers, if you look at the group of forwards they had they were a very talented group. They played a little bit of a different system as well. I’m not so concerned with the numbers as most people are, but Claude does need to come back this year and be a better player than he was last year.

Again, I’m not so worried about the numbers as I am him being the best player he can be, which last year obviously he had the (sports hernia) surgery and stuff. He changed his training a little bit this year. There’s certain things he’s doing. I think last year the World Cup, in hindsight, was probably the worst thing that could have happened for him because it shortened his rehab/workout window in the summer trying to get over the surgery. I think it was much of that time at the World Cup that hurt him as it was…if you look at the first part of the year he was actually pretty good and then he started to dip. If you don’t have a full summer, a lot of times it will show up later in the year because you just can’t maintain over the course of the year. I believe that was a big chunk of what happened to Claude. He knows he’s a better player. We know he’s a better player. We’ve got (Valtteri Filppula) for the whole year, (Jordan Weal) for the whole year. We’re gonna be a better top-nine group where he’s gonna have better players on a more consistent basis to play with. There’s no doubt in our minds that he’s gonna bounce back.

DI: So part of it is not having a good enough supporting cast. But is it bad enough where you go to Dave Hakstol and ask him to tweak the system so that Claude can do his thing?

RH: No, because every system works. It’s the attention to detail and how good are your players? Every system works. In the end it comes down to your players executing, the talent level of your players. Are there some things we can do better? Of course there are. All of us. Claude, myself, every other player on our team, the coaches, we can all do better. We have to do better than we did last year.

DI: Not specific to Patrick, but your prospect pool has gotten rave reviews recently. Some of that is building over time, but what’s changed from say five years ago? (Assistant GM and director of player personnel) Chris Pryor has been here a long time and always ran scouting. Are you guys just better at evaluating talent now?