In 2021-22, van Riemsdyk lead the Flyers with 24 goals. And with him playing in just 61 games, he still finished the year with 12 goals and 17 assists. His 29 points were good for ninth on the team.
"“He’s fighting for his career, to continue his career. I do think he’ll get an opportunity (to keep playing next season),” John Tortorella said about the veteran forward. “I think he understands, I think he’s a pretty level-headed guy, I know him pretty well. He understands what I’m trying to do. I was disappointed for him that he didn’t get a chance to try to go win."
Rocky Thompson, said that JVR was “a great pro” after he scored his 300th career goal while covering the bench for Tortorella. “He’s one of the better American players of all time” said Joel Farabee. In fact, his 300 goals currently ranks him at 25th all time for US-born players just one ahead of Austin Matthews and 12 behind Blake Wheeler.
Tortorella has said that he was the kind of a guy who can teach the young guys. All year long players like Morgan Frost and Farabee have sung his praises. Some of the best nights that Frost, Farabee, and/or Owen Tippett had were when they shared a line with van Riemsdyk.
So Why Bring JVR Back?
Van Riemsdyk’s value is not going to be in what he can do on the ice. Simply put, he is a soon to be 34 year old with fading skills. But on the positive side, he has a lot of heart. Likewise, he isn’t going to be seeing another $7 million contract.
He is very popular in the locker room. He is well liked by the young guys. Even Tortorella and Thompson appreciate and respect him for playing like he has.
Perhaps he could sign with the Flyers on a one-year “prove it deal” for $2-4 million. That would still give the team the financial flexibility to lock up some young guys long term and/or sign some vets to build on. Or if the team can’t land any free agent, he’s a perfect Plan B (or C) as he is already familiar with the team and the coaches.
He can still help develop the young players and build on what he has already done. Likewise, if he has a great season, he can turn it into a bigger contract the year after OR make himself more marketable for a trade next season to a contender and help the Flyers build that way.
While his second stint with the Flyers hasn’t turned out as anyone have hoped, something can still be salvaged. JVR still has worth that could be potentially mined. Is he willing to take a hometown discount? Would Daniel Briere, a former teammate, and Tortorella want him back? We’ll just have to see how things develop. After all, the Flyers could still use a left wing with a hard shot.