When a player is drafted #2 overall, his name is immediately attached to extraordinary high expectations. To say James van Riemsdyk has even remotely reached the standards set for him would be wrong.
But that doesn’t mean he can’t.
The 2012 season was a complete disappointment for JVR. He was limited to only 43 regular season games, as he dealt with a recurring groin injury, a wicked concussion, and a broken foot which did not allow him to return to the ice until Game 5 of the Flyers first round matchup with the Penguins.
He had just 11 goals and 13 assists in the Regular Season, in comparison to his 21 goals and 19 assists in 2011. In the playoffs, he had more penalty minutes (4), than points (2).
At the trade deadline, van Riemsdyk was at the front of most Flyers trade rumors. But he would remain with Philadelphia, as the Flyers front office gave him a vote of confidence.
The question now is: Will JVR survive this offseason? If a top defenseman was on the table via trade, would the Flyers ship out James van Riemsdyk?
It would be in Philadelphia’s best interest to keep him for at least the 2013 NHL season.
Let us not forget that Philadelphia totally rushed van Riemsdyk up into joining the team. While most top draft picks had spent the previous year(s) playing in junior leagues, “Riemer” was coming straight out of New Hampshire University. Leagues like the Ontario Hockey League, which ’07 top pick Patrick Kane came out of, and U.S. college hockey are on completely different talent scales.
If that was not already a disadvantage, van Riemsdyk spent a mere 7 games with the then Philadelphia Phantoms, before joining the big leagues. Three years in the NHL, he is still learning, and rightfully so. He also is only 23 years old, and has not even come close to reaching his peak yet.
With that all said, he lit it up in the 2011 Playoffs. While other guys on the team were faltering, JVR carried the Offense on his shoulders. In 11 games, he notched 7 goals. Pretty impressive for a guy in just his second NHL season.
The promise he showed throughout the Flyers playoff run is what he should expect to see from him throughout his career.
Furthermore, injuries are merely a part of the game, and something that van Riemsdyk had to deal with throughout the season. But he is not an injury prone player, missing only 11 out of a possible 164 Regular Season games the previous two seasons. He has had the offseason to heal, and will be 100% come October.
The 2013 Regular Season comes with massive implications for James van Riemsdyk’s future with the Flyers, which is exactly why he is going to explode. He lives right in front of the net, and will connect on a multitude of redirection goals.
Flyers management and fans alike will be happy they stuck with JVR, as he will be a crucial part to their team for years to come.