Flyers Getting the Expected Power-Play Production from van Riemsdyk

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly writer 

After signing a huge five year $35 million contract during the 2017-18 offseason, James van Riemsdyk gave hope to fans of the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans who were looking for a goal scorer, rightfully so as van Riemsdyk was a top free agent that offseason who was coming off of a career season with 36 goals, 11 of them on the power play.

The issue is when GMs hand out large contracts to players who are expected to perform, and they don’t right away, it causes people to overreact quite similar to how a young star player who is drafted high in the first round doesn’t live up to expectations.

Goal scorers can be streaky, and van Riemsdyk is no exception as he has gone numerous of games without scoring before. Despite battling through injuries, and long droughts, the now 31-year-old is still a driven force for the Orange and Black.

Since the New Jersey native signed back in Philadelphia; the team who drafted him second overall in the 2007 NHL Draft, van Riemsdyk has not received the praise he deserves and in large part it has to do with his contract. His AAV is a $7 million cap hit, which is certainly not very cap friendly, but that doesn’t mean “JVR” is playing poorly.

Since returning to the Flyers, he has scored a combine 46 goals – 27 in 2018-19 and 19 in 2019-20 – and 42 assists – 21 assists in both 2018-19 and 2019-20 – for 88 points total in the last two seasons. He already has seven points in seven games this year, including five goals and four power-play tallies.

For those who enjoy their stats, JVR was a minus-10 despite putting up 48 points in 2018-19. He did much better last year as he was a plus-5 with 40 points. During his six years in Toronto, van Riemsdyk scored a total of 88 power-play points, including 45 goals, in 413 total games which are the kind of numbers Flyers fans are hoping for.

According to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall, since van Riemsdyk returned in 2018 the Flyers are 42-13-5 when he records at least one point. Hall also pointed out that the “streaky” goal scorer has been snake bitten over the years. Here’s how.

Through his first seven games last year, JVR took 35 shots and had no points. This year, he has taken only 20 shots, but has seven points and five goals.

"He's got really, really soft hands and he's got a really good touch. He can make the plays out of nothing, which is really important," Jake Voracek said of JVR in November 2018. "He can raise the puck under the bar from impossible angles. He kind of gives the goalies a little bit more respect. Like if I'm standing in front of the net, one foot from the pad, I'm not going to raise it anywhere, but he will. He's a big body in front of the net, he's a great player that can score goals. Obviously we missed him over the period of time, especially on the power play. He's a really smart player around the net and he's going to help us a lot."

That was exactly the kind of player he was in the Flyers 5-3 victory Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils as van Riemsdyk had two power-play goals; both coming from in front of the net.

The good news so far this season is that van Riemsdyk has already matched his season total of power-play points from last season with four points. It took him 66 games to reach that. He is currently a point per game player, on pace for 56 points.

Over time JVR, who is in his 12th season and sixth with Philadelphia, will continue to show why he is still an effective player in the NHL. When the Expansion Draft for the Seattle Kraken takes place in June of this year, don't be surprised if you hear van Riemsdyk's named get called as he would be a key player for the 32nd team in the league especially where he is at his best, on the power play.