33-year-old forward James Van Riemsdyk is currently the Flyers’ top pending unrestricted free agent and will be the player that brings the best potential return for them at the trade deadline in March. The problem is, on most Cup-caliber teams Van Riemsdyk is nothing more than a third line left wing. He’s not the most dynamic player and his offense tends to come in bunches with long cold streaks mixed in, so while he will have value at the deadline, he more than likely isn’t in a tier that will bring the Flyers a blow away offer, but there should be plenty of teams ready to take on his services for a playoff push.
Number 5: Minnesota Wild
The Wild aren’t exactly the deepest forward team in the league and could be on the prowl to find multiple pieces to maintain a playoff spot they’re hanging onto for dear life. There have been some vague connections between the Wild and JVR through various media sites as the trade deadline nears. They primarily need help at 5-on-5 scoring, which surprisingly Van Riemsdyk has done well at this season with 18 of his 22 points coming at even strength. Not to mention, Minnesota is one of the few teams in the league that actually has quite a bit of salary cap to play with at the deadline and just about all of their draft picks to make a deal.
Number 4: Seattle Kraken
It’d be some delicious irony if JVR ends up in Seattle after he was tied to the Kraken during the expansion draft in a move that ultimately never came to fruition. They’re somehow a top three team in the Pacific division in a dogfight with both Vegas and LA for positioning. It feels unlikely Seattle goes crazy at the deadline for a deep playoff push, but they could add some under-the-radar pieces whilst everyone else is fighting over the top available players, and if that’s the case then JVR could spark serious interest from the Kraken.
Number 3: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs are pretty much tied to every trade rumor this year as they desperately try to get out of the first round of the playoffs, and they’re a team that could actually be scoping out the depth forward market. Once the Flyers retain half of JVR’s deal, his real world cap is going to be practically nothing, making him an even more enticing piece for the cap strapped Leafs. Not to mention the Leafs and JVR have quite the history; it’s where Van Riemsdyk played some of the best hockey of his career. They could look to rekindle that relationship in the name of postseason success.
Number 2: Boston Bruins
The Bruins are the powerhouse team in the league and will more than likely be active at the deadline to make their really good team even better. While it seems to make far more sense for the Bruins to be in on someone like Kevin Hayes or potentially Ivan Provorov, adding middle-six forward pieces to insulate and cover all their bases come playoff time when they have to back up their regular season success who they don’t have to give up a king’s ransom for makes plenty of sense.
Number 1: Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights have had a whole bunch of scouts circling the Flyers lately, but it sure doesn’t seem like any kind of natural connection between the franchises. With Mark Stone on the shelf due to back surgery they could be in the market for a winger. While JVR and Stone aren’t even close to the same caliber of player and don’t even play on the same side, a cost effective winger with a bit of upside could be all they’re looking for, and that is what JVR brings to the table.
Somewhere in western PA Ron Hextall is licking his lips to get his prized free agent signing back, and considering the Penguins are fighting for their postseason lives, they could reasonably seek to bring in James Van Riemsdyk at the deadline to help out their depleted forward depth.
New York Rangers
On paper, the Rangers seem set at left wing, but they also don’t appear to have the longest leash for Alexis Lafreniere, who is currently penciled in at 3LW. If the Rangers wanted to add a veteran insurance policy for a playoff run at a cheap, relatively inconsequential price, JVR could be their guy.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com