Philadelphia Flyers: James van Riemsdyk’s up and down season

James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The results were up and down this season for James van Riemsdyk. While a well-liked Flyers player, the numbers on the ice are becoming hard to swallow.

The Flyers brought back James van Riemsdyk during the summer in 2018. It was a big signing, bringing back the forward with a five-year, $35M contract. He appeared in 66 games that season, collecting 48 points, the lowest since he only played in 40 games in 2015-16. Still, he posted 27 goals which were second on the Flyers at the time.

The numbers dipped more this past season as van Riemsdyk finished under 20 goals. His fractured finger towards the beginning of March would’ve normally cost him the rest of the regular season. If things are to resume, he will be fully healthy and may likely go over the 20-goal mark. A hot streak could give him more points than last season.

There were far too many times, though, that van Riemsdyk seemed to disappear. He didn’t grab his first goal of the season until eight games in. He had a stretch of 16 games in which he only scored one goal. His special teams play took a considerable hit as well. Van Riemsdyk had just nine power-play points after posting double-digit points in the last three seasons.

You could call it luck during the beginning of the season as he was doing everything he could to score. But that cannot be an excuse for the other instances throughout the season. As harsh as it sounds, the Flyers need more from a player they are paying $7M to each year.

One area he has shined in this year has been his playmaking. He continued to produce in that department, grabbing 21 assists for the second straight season. In all situations, van Riemsdyk was fourth on the team with a 58.10 FF%. The team was driving play better with him on the ice than they had been last season.

Despite the drop in goal-scoring, van Riemsdyk did have a high goals-scored and expected goals percentages in all situations. He was 5th overall on the team, second among players who had been there the entire year, with a 62.24 GF%. His 61.28 xGF% led the entire team. So he is actually performing better than what he is expected to be doing.

So you’re probably wondering what the issue is if his advanced numbers are showing that he was performing well on the ice. While those numbers have gone up since last season, everything else has dropped off. It’s not hard to see that injuries have plagued him throughout his entire career.

A healthy van Riemsdyk has been an absolute monster on the ice. His last 82-game season was in 2016-17. That season, he posted 29 goals and 33 assists for a career-high 62 points. The following year he played in 81 games and collected 54 points. There is only one other instance where he played a full season and that was in 2014-15.

So van Riemsdyk has shown what he can do when he has a healthy season. But with three more years left on that hefty contract, how much longer can the Flyers hope to see him stay healthy? There is no doubt that he is a big part of the team’s chemistry.

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If the numbers continue to dip going into next season, there is a chance the team could leave him exposed and see if Seattle bites on his contract. On the flip side, a step up from this past season could persuade the Flyers to go in a different direction. That is, of course, if they have thought about the possibility of losing van Riemsdyk.