Flyers Unhappy with JVR?
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06-16-2010, 02:27 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Kitchener, ON
Thank you Bill:
The other day on the Sports Final program, Howard Eskin reported that the Flyers are unhappy with James Van Riemsdyk and that he is a player who could be used as trade bait this summer. While I doubt that JVR will be moved at this stage of his career, Eskin's report is not the first indication that the organization is concerned about whether the second overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft is going to be able to fulfill his potential in orange and black.
It is not a question of physical ability. Although he can still stand to add muscle, when he applies himself, Van Riemsdyk's skill level jumps out at you. There were several games this season where he was one of the best players on the ice for either team.
It's certainly not a matter of statistics, either. For a 20-year-old rookie skating primarily on the third line, his 15 regular season goals and 35 points (plus 3 playoff goals and 3 playoff assists) were acceptable production.
Instead, it's a question over JVR's internal drive and competitiveness. Earlier this season, sources within the Flyers organization said that JVR was not the kind of player "who will go through a wall for you" to win, while an NHL scout who regularly attends games in Philly said of JVR that "he's a skilled kid but he's real soft, and you can't teach heart."
Personally, I think it's asinine to label a player when he's so young.
The Flyers started to question JVR's desire two years ago when he opted for a second collegiate season over a pro season in the AHL. That immediately put him behind the eight ball, and JVR didn't do much his second college season or during his end-of-season stint with the Phantoms to show that he belonged in the NHL.
Last summer, however, JVR put in a lot of hard work and earned a spot in the NHL on his own merits after an eye-popping rookie camp and excellent preseason. He carried it over early in the regular season but then hit a wall in November. After a brief resurgence before the Olympics, he disappeared for much of the remainder of the season. Van Riemsdyk dressed for most of the playoffs but ended up a healthy scratch for two games in the Stanley Cup Final. When he returned, he had a couple solid games and got back onto the scoresheet.
During his struggles, there was apparently a belief that Van Riemsdyk was not as committed as he should have been to doing the little things on the ice that it takes to work through a slump. Rather than simplifying his game and trying to help out in other areas, he tried to be strictly a finesse player and made little to no impact on games.
That's how it usually goes with rookies. They are used to dominating at lower levels and need to learn to adjust their games to the rigors of the NHL. In addition, the grueling NHL schedule is an eye-opener in and of itself. The Flyers' brass is savvy enough to realize that.
Van Riemdsyk is an earnest, friendly and laid back young man off the ice. He may not wear his competitiveness on his sleeve, but it's a mistake to assume that it's not there because he doesn't show outward signs of intensity on or off the ice. Frankly, I think he's come a long way since this time last year and if he progresses at a similar rate over the next few years, he's going to be a fine NHL player.
With the Flyers lacking prospects in the system and JVR and Claude Giroux being the best young NHLers in the organization, I don't think the club is a position to further deplete its depth by moving JVR as part of a deal to improve either the defense or goaltender. Keep in mind that skilled players on rookie contracts are at a premium in the NHL's salary cap age. While Van Riemsdyk isn't entirely untouchable, I'd be very surprised if he's anywhere but Philadelphia over the next couple seasons.
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