New Faces in New Places: James van Riemsdyk

During the month of September, we will profile New Faces in New Places from around the NHL. We now look at Flyers’ winger James Van Riemsdyk. He’s coming off a career year in goals and now returns for a second stint in Philadelphia. Can he keep the good times rolling?

James van Riemsdyk

2017-18 Stats: 36-18-54 in 81 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2018-19 Team: Philadelphia Flyers.

How Acquired: Signed a 5-year deal worth $35 million on July 1, 2018.

Expected Place in Lineup: Top-6 winger.

Toronto Maple Leafs, James van Riemsdyk, NHL
JVR back in Phiadelphia is a sign of the new times for the Flyers, high expectations. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Mark’s Take

We knew van Riemsdyk was not going back to Toronto. What I think many of us weren’t sure of was where he’d end up. JVR was the most coveted free agent not named John Tavares this offseason.

GM Ron Hextall is not known as a big game hunter. He decided to put a huge dent in that narrative by giving JVR the richest Flyers’ contract since Ilya Bryzgalov. On paper, this seems like a great fit.

JVR is coming off a career-high 36 goals in Toronto. While most of the attention there went to the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and others, van Riemsdyk found a home and took advantage of it. He scored 11 power-play goals while pumping in another 25 even-strength goals from the middle-six. He gave the Maple Leafs a dimension of scoring few teams could match.

Now he comes back to the Flyers for a second stint. This time things are different in Philadelphia. Given the Flyers made the playoffs last season, this signing points to one overwhelming theme. Expectations are now much higher within the confines of Wells Fargo Center.

If the last five seasons are any indication of what JVR will bring to the Flyers, it’s consistent offense and meh defense. If anything, the Flyers will score a lot especially on the power play. But they may have to outscore opponents to win. That will be the key question. Will the defense and the play of Brian Elliott be good enough for this team to get deep into the playoffs?

In the meantime, 30 other teams would be wise to stay out of the penalty box this season against the Flyers.

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What Others Have Said

“van Riemsdyk brings size (6-3, 217), shooting and consistent scoring, all three areas the Flyers will certainly benefit from both in the immediate future and a few seasons down the line.” –NBC Sports Philadelphia

“The term we could live with. We can manage our way around the salary cap. We’ve looked up, down and all around at different projections for the next few years, and we felt comfortable with the term and the player.” –Flyers GM Ron Hextall

“I couldn’t be more excited to be coming back to Philadelphia. They have a great thing in place and I’m happy to be a part of that now and I’m looking forward to getting on the ice.” –James van Riemsdyk

“This is by far Hextall’s biggest free agent signing and Philadelphia’s richest since giving goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov $41.88 million on a nine-year deal in 2011.” –USA Today/AP

2018-19 Season Stats Prediction

Adding a weapon like van Riemsdyk to an already loaded power play makes the Flyers that much more dangerous. JVR could also make Nolan Patrick a more dangerous weapon. There’s a lot to like about this move. Curious how this will look in years 4-5 of the deal though. I also still have some questions about their overall defense as well.

  • 28-24-52 and will be part of the Flyers’ top-five overall power play. I also think he exceeds the 11 PPG’s he scored last season in Toronto.