We’re deep in the dog days of summer. The Philadelphia Phillies are the main ticket in town, the Philadelphia Union are hot on their tail, succeeding in their own right, and the Philadelphia Eagles are set to take the field for their first preseason game later this week.
For most people, the Philadelphia Flyers are a total afterthought. The franchise is in a bad cap situation with little high-end talent to write home about. If you asked a few dozen Philadelphia sports talk radio callers to name six Flyers players, they would probably struggle to hit that number while naming Jake Voracek, Claude Giroux, and Wayne Simmonds in the process. Aside from Gritty, Sean Couturier is probably the most well-known commodity on the team followed by Carter Hart and Kevin Hayes.
When Chuck Fletcher declared an “aggressive retool,” no one thought it would turn out like this. Aggressive would be trading for Alex DeBrincat, signing Johnny Gaudreau, or trading for Matthew Tkachuk. Despite the off-season, Philadelphia must find a way to create more cap space.
That begs a lingering question; what will happen to James van Riemsdyk?
Entering the final season of his 5yr, $35mil contract, van Riemsdyk is 33 years old. He is fresh off of a 38pt (24G, 14A) season, comparably his worst since his rookie season with the Philadelphia Flyers.
van Riemsdyk was a topic of interest when the Flyers fans were left questioning why Fletcher protected an aging winger when he could have packaged him and a first-round pick to another poor powerplay unit to clear cap space for Gaudreau.
Fletcher sides with van Riemsdyk because he was the primary scorer on the powerplay in 2021-2022. It’s a point of emphasis heading into 2022-2023. As it stands, van Riemsdyk is rooted in Philadelphia.
Let JvR thrive
With Joel Farabee and Bobby Brink out to start the Philadelphia Flyers season, the Flyers will miss their top, young forwards. van Riemsdyk makes sense to surface in the top-six of the lineup, perhaps on the top line. He fits on the left of Sean Couturier or Kevin Hayes.
Due to injury, van Riemsdyk gets top minutes. Mingling with two of the players on the team should generate a ton of scoring chances. Factor the time spent on the first powerplay unit, and van Riemsdyk could pace towards 25 lamps lit.
When Farabee and Brink recover and return, what happens to van Riemsdyk?
Early last season, it was clear the Philadelphia Flyers would be sellers at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.
van Riemsdyk should receive attention at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, and if he’s given every chance to succeed under Tortorella, his trade value ascends higher than it is presently. Another team would take van Riemsdyk on no-strings-attached rental, especially when he was as efficient as Anders Lee on the powerplay in 2021-2022.
A deadline trade would help the Flyers’ cap scenario. It’ll be a less expensive trade to make at the deadline, but Fletcher has to still prey on a bad team with a poor powerplay unit. If not, it’s because a bad team with a poor powerplay unit accurately describes Philadelphia and van Riemsdyk will melt off the cap at the expiration of the 2022-2023 season.
Here’s an early attempt at the possible forward lines for the Philadelphia Flyers:
Once Farabee and Brink return, van Riemsdyk becomes 2LW or 3LW. The Flyers need to find out how their young players will contribute. Tortorella needs to put those guys in a position to succeed, they are the future of the team.
van Riemsdyk is still an essential part of the team; if he piles goals he can be moved at the deadline. He’ll require consistent quality minutes, but has a chance to score in bunches.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)