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Behind The Bench: James van Riemsdyk

by on 07/19/2011

Born: May 4, 1989
Ht: 6’3″
Wt: 211 lbs
Draft: 2nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007
Plays for: Philadelphia Flyers, Left Wing, Shoots Left
Jersey No.: #21

NHL Stats

Regular Season: 153 GP – 36 G – 39 A – 75 P
Playoffs: 32 GP – 10 G – 3 A – 13 P

“The Philadelphia Flyers are proud to select, with the second pick of the 2007 entry draft, from the U.S. National Development Program, James Van Riemsdyk.”

And just like that JVR made history.

JVR was drafted 2nd overall behind fellow American Patrick Kane. The duo made NHL history by becoming the first two Americans to be drafted 1st and 2nd overall in the same draft.

JVR made an immediate impact with the Flyers during the 09/10 season. During the Flyer’s annual rookie game against the Washington Capitals, JVR scored 4 goals and added an assist. He continued to impress by posting 3 goals and an assist during the preseason. The Flyers organization rewarded JVR by including him on the Flyer’s starting roster. JVR played his rookie season on the third line with Claude Giroux. He finished his rookie season playing 78 regular season games with 35 points; 15 goals and 20 assists. JVR also played in 21 playoff games, scoring 3 goals and 3 assists. JVR finished his rookie season 8th in points and assists, 6th in goals and tied for 1st in game winning goals among all rookies.

JVR’s playoff was a quiet one, he only posted 3 goals during the 09/10 playoffs but his first NHL playoff goal may be remembered as his most important. After the Flyers clawed back from a 3 game deficit to tie the series at 3 apiece against the Bruins, the Flyers found themselves down 3-0 early in the first period in game 7. With 2:48 left in the first period, Claude Giroux passes the puck from the half boards to JVR in the left wing circle, JVR curled the puck back and shoots, the puck deflects off Mark Stuart’s stick and dribbles in the near post, 3-1 Bruins. With JVR’s goal the momentum shifted to the Flyers and the Flyers would go on to win game 7, 4-3 and advance to the Stanely Cup Finals. The Flyers would fall to the Blackhawks in 6 games.

With the departure of Simon Gagne during the off season, expectations were on JVR to take his game to the next level. He dedicated his summer to filling out his body and put 10 pounds of muscle on in the process. JVR disappointmented many during the 10/11 season. He had been giving Simon Gagne’s top 6 spot but could not produce. Throughout the season JVR would disappear for games at a time and was even benched. It took a 5 game scoring drought, a hat trick and a teammate calling out his inconsistency for him to show signs of improvement.

“He’s a good player but he’s still young and he needs to learn how to play that game every night. You can still see some ups and downs…as long as he can keep the passion and be excited every game and be the player he was tonight he can be a great player but he’s still going to have games where he’s going to…you know…it’s a learning process and he will learn.” – Kimmo Timonen on JVR’s play

JVR went into the playoffs and scored 7 goals in 11 games, including a 5 game, 6 goal streak. JVR’s playoff performance was more than mere flashes of brillance and he was often the Flyers best player on the ice.

JVR is a big winger who protects the puck well and has good stickhandling skills. He is also a good skater with great acceleration and has a powerful first stride. Van Riemsdyk has a good shot and can create space for his teammates. JVR posseses a good work ethic but has suffered bouts of inconsistency. He patterns his game after Blue Jackets winger Rick Nash, “he’s big, good offensively, and he can skate,” but he reminds me more of Joe Thornton. Big Joe put up decent numbers in his sophomore season but he really broke out during the 98/99 playoffs where he posted 9 points in 11 games. Big Joe posted a 60 point season the following year. During the 10/11 playoffs, JVR proved that he can dominate a game when he uses his skill, size and speed together. If he can continue his style of play into the upcoming season, their’s no doubt JVR will have a great third season.

JVR has had trouble finding consistency in his first two seasons in the NHL but like many budding power forwards in the league, it just takes some time. Next year should be JVR’s “time”. With Paul Holmgren shipping both Jeff Carter and Mike Richards out of town, JVR will be relied on heavily to produce next season. He’ll be given prime powerplay time and first line minutes along side Giroux and Jagr. Even if JVR doesn’t met expectations next season, he will in his 4th year. Holmgren made a very saavy move in acquiring Jagr this off season. By acquiring Jagr, Holmgren has taken the pressure to produce off some of the Flyers wingers. Secondly and more importantly, Holmgren has given JVR a role model to mold his game after. If JVR can soak up even a fraction of what Jagr will teach him throughout the year, he could become one of the elite power forwards in the league within a few years.

Behind The Bench appears Monday to Friday only on puckpuckgoose.com.

Edited by: John Jasinski
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