What do you do with a 31-year-old hockey player on a massive contract who isn’t very good at hockey anymore? No, seriously, what do you do?
James Van Riemsdyk is still due to make $7 million a season for three more years, all while his play continues to decline, posting his third consecutive season his goal total dropped and fourth straight season his point total fell. Combine all that with the fact the the salary cap will stay flat for at least one more year, moving on from JVR all of a sudden becomes a daunting task.
There are very few scenarios where the Flyers will get any kind of reasonable return. Chances are, they will have to give up an asset or two to dump his salary, or eat part of his contract for teams to be interested in taking JVR off the Flyers’ hands. So be it a cap dump of some magical trade, where will James Van Riemsdyk likely end up if he gets dealt away from the Flyers?
Number 5- New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils are a team that is in a rebuild, but pretends they aren’t. After supposedly “winning the offseason” last summer with the additions of PK Subban, Wayne Simmonds, and drafting Jack Hughes number one overall, they were apparently a team that was going to make noise in the Metro division. Well that didn’t end up happening and now they’re back to the drawing board. While Van Riemsdyk isn’t the spark plug of their turnaround, he could be a big help for their anemic offense. JVR’s 19 goals and 40 points would rank him second in goals and fourth in points on the Devils squad during the 2019-20 season. Would New Jersey have interest in bringing JVR back to his home state? Maybe, though the asking price may be high. Outside of signing goalie Mackenzie Blackwood to an extension this offseason, they aren’t in any immediate cap trouble, but given cap space is at a premium right now, and the Devils are still convinced they can stay competitive, it wouldn’t be a surprise of they asked for a prospect in return in order to eat JVR’s salary.
Number 4- Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators can take on JVR’s contract in full, but the question is would they? Unlike the Devils, the Senators are stocked with young talent who are either already locked up on big money deals, or in need of one in the near future. With Thomas Chabot and Colin White signed and Brady Tkachuk and Connor Brown due contracts within the next two years, plus the addition of multiple prospects who may need big-money deals soon enough, putting three years of commitment into JVR may not be the best move. Though on the bright side, the Sens do have just shy of $40 million in cap space this summer. That being said, if the Flyers go knocking on the Senators door, there’s a chance they would demand the Flyers take on Bobby Ryan’s contract in return, who is making $7.2 million for just two more years. Would the Flyers take on the bigger contract and worse player now if it meant only being tied to that contract for two years instead of JVR’s $7 million for three years? Given Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux need contracts in 2022, Ryan’s deal ending early would help the Flyers tremendously, even if it hurts in the short term.
Number 3- Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings will have the second most cap space for the coming offseason with $35 million and they know they will be a popular dumping ground with the flat cap, so if the Flyers look there, the price of entry may be steep. Van Riemsdyk’s seven million cap hit would easily make him the highest paid player in on the Wings’ team and that would come with a big asking price from the Red Wings. Luckily the Flyers have copious amounts of draft picks and prospects to help sway the Wings. Detroit already has six picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 draft, and five picks in 2021. The Flyers have their first and second rounders this season and one in all three opening rounds for next season and pairing JVR with a high draft pick or two could be what gets the deal done. Still in the midst of a rebuild, the Wings are stockpiling young talent and picks, meanwhile the Flyers are in the win-now phase and can spare to part with a draft pick or prospect or two if it means the betterment of the team via more cap space and an open roster spot. The Red Wings’ price may be expensive, but if the Flyers can make a clean break from JVR, it may be a price worth meeting.
Number 2- Nashville Predators
As unlikely as this sounds at face value, it may be one of the most realistic with a deeper look. A few weeks back, Robby Stanley made a guest appearance on Brotherly Pod to talk about the Predators lackluster season and where some of their issues stemmed from. He blamed it on a lack of chemistry amongst the players, and with some big contracts on the books, it’s not an easy fix. If the Predators feel like there is some fight left in them in regards to a Stanley Cup push, they would need to move a bad contract or two of their own. The player they likely want to deal the most is 31-year-old forward Kyle Turris who, after signing a six-year extension in late 2017, has lost his place in the Predators lineup. With four years left at a $6 million cap hit, it’s a longer deal that JVR, but if Turris can re-find his game in the Flyers lineup, hoepfully at 3C, the risk of the longer contract may be worth the reward if he is a better fit in the lineup than JVR.
Number 1- Seattle Kraken
Maybe the most likely outcome for JVR’s time in Philly may not be in the Flyers’ control. If they shop him around without any takers this offseason, the only way out of his contract may be letting the Seattle Kraken take him during the expansion draft next summer. The expansion draft is a popular and easy way for teams to get out of bad contracts, whether that be by the expansion team drafting that player by themselves, or a trade where the expansion team gets compensated for taking on a bad player. Which route the Flyers and Kraken go down depends on how bad JVR’s 2020-21 season is, but either way, it may be the only solution that makes sure JVR leaves Philadelphia, hopefully for good this time.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sportsnet.ca