2022-23 Flyers Player Profile: James van Riemsdyk

Apr 3, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Philadelphia Flyers left wing James van Riemsdyk (25) skates with the puck against the New York Rangers during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Philadelphia Flyers left wing James van Riemsdyk (25) skates with the puck against the New York Rangers during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports /

There are few Flyers that are as polarizing as James van Riemsdyk. Is he good? Is he bad? Is he overpriced? Is he overrated? It’s not so simple with him. There are flashes of pure brilliance when it comes to his style of play. And then, he tends to disappear. Whatever you think of him, JVR is critical to the Flyers upcoming season.

JVR was a first round pick for the Flyers in 2007, going second overall in that draft. He made his debut two years later and would score 15 goals and 20 assists in his rookie campaign. He was paired up with second year player, Claude Giroux and the two hit it off. During the Stanley Cup playoff run that year, he scored three goals and three assists. The following year, he’d score seven goals during the team’s playoff run.

In 2011, he signed a six year deal, which we as Flyers fans knew was a “Death Deal” as stars like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter had signed long term deals and were quickly shipped out. JVR got hurt, took a step back stat wise (11 goals in 2011-12 as opposed to 21 the year before), and got on the bad side of coach Peter Laviolette.

In 2012, JVR was shipped off to Toronto for defenseman Luke Schenn, the brother of Flyers winger Brayden Schenn. In his first season in Toronto, with the lockout over, he scored 18 goals in 48 games. He then went on a tear scoring 25+ goals in four of the next five seasons.

As a free agent, then GM Ron Hextall made a huge splash by getting JVR back on the team. He signed him to a five year $35 million contract. There were many detractors who felt that the cost was too high. It was hoped that JVR could be the scoring piece the Flyers needed to get over the hump. He scored 27 goals his first season, but only 19 in the COVID shortened season while playing the same amount of games.

JVR had a bounce back season of sorts scoring 24 goals, his highest total since his first year rejoining the Flyers. His biggest issue seems to be his streakiness. Much like Cam Atkinson, he can score four goals in five games and then not score again for three weeks. The interesting thing is after coach Alain Vigneault was released, he seemed to start scoring again (and he’s not the only Flyer guilty of this).

Is he moody? Is he lazy? Not sure. At the same time, the Flyers had left him open for the Seattle Kraken to snag (they didn’t take him) and they have been actively shopping him for the last few years. Rumors suggest that in an effort to get Johnny Gaudreau and/or other top free agents, the Flyers tried to ship him and his $7 million contract to no avail.

The rumors suggest that the only teams to be interested in him wanted a first rounder along with JVR to take on that contact. Wisely, Chuck Fletcher didn’t pounce on that deal.

JVR is on the last year of his deal. This will probably be his last year on the team. Often, players in his situation put up monster stats so they can cash in on another deal. However, he’s 33 and he probably is not going to get another mega deal.

He is one of the players to watch if they can gel with new coach John Tortorella. If he didn’t get along with Lavy, can he get along with Torts? If he gets moody, will he put in a full effort and play to his potential or will he play “lazy and apathetic”? Will he be a trade deadline move to another club? If he is shipped out, what can he bring back in a deal?

JVR is a very hard player to talk about. On the one hand, he can be a dynamic scorer and be the sort of winger the Flyers need to depend on. On the other hand, he can fall into these stretches where he couldn’t buy a point. And when he is in those stretches, his detractors will yell, scream, and point and say, “I told you so!!!”

So far, I’ve been trying to predict how each player will do. I can’t nail JVR down. If he is healthy and happy, I can see him getting 30 goals and at least 20 assists with Torts. If he is not playing to the level we know he can be, I can see him getting 18 goals and18 assists before being traded for a seventh round pick.

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I’ve always liked him. I always felt that they should never have traded him away way back when and that he would’ve put up monster numbers with Giroux, B. Schenn, Jakub Voracek, Scott Hartnell, and Wayne Simmonds. That didn’t happen. I still feel his reunion with the team can end well if he pushes it.

And if he has a good season, I wouldn’t mind re-signing him, albeit to a much lower team friendlier deal. Time will tell what will happen. But overall, he is one of two players that I am concerned with how they deal with our new coach.