"We have to put players on our team that will make an impact,. If James is one of those guys, then he will be on our team.This isn't a situation where we are going to develop players. We have to get off to a good start and put the best team possible on the ice. If he is ready, he will be here."
>> John Stevens
And thus, the door is open. Will James van Riemsdyk skate through it?
He's certainly trying. The 2nd overall pick in the 2007 draft scored four goals in the rookie game against the Capitals on Friday, and in scrimmages against his NHL-level teammates yesterday, he tallied an impressive shootout goal against Ray Emery. John Stevens has given him a vote of confidence by placing him on a line with Danny Briere and Claude Giroux, although the coach has mentioned that we should not read too much into that.
Nevertheless, JVR is impressing in his first Flyers training camp, and the question should at least be raised: does he make this team? He's among the 35 players who made the trip with the team to Detroit today, and it's presumed he will take the ice tonight when the Flyers take on the Red Wings in the first preseason matchup of the season.
It's early in the youngster's career, there's no doubt about that, but many of his peers in the class of 2007 are already playing in the league. You could contribute that to the fact to the Flyers organizational depth and JVR's desire to stay in college and avoid going pro until last April, but five of the other top nine players in the top 10 of his draft class have played at least 30 NHL games thus far.
JVR is certainly behind the curve, and the higher ups in the organization were vocal in their displeasure with his decision to stay at the University of New Hampshire until the end of his sophomore season. General manager Paul Holmgren, in particular, felt that his domination of the competition at UNH stagnated his development. He must prove that isn't the case by showcasing his talent among professional talent, and his performance in training camp thus far is going a long way toward that goal.
It's one thing to light up the college ranks. It's another to light up a rookie camp game with five points. It's yet another thing to standout amongst an NHL team in a training camp scrimmage. It would be a giant step forward to do the same in a real game against another NHL team, though.
It's not an official NHL game tonight, of course -- just preseason -- but that doesn't mean that the quality of competition isn't at an NHL level. Many of the Red Wings players van Riemsdyk will play against tonight have played at the highest level of hockey in the world, the Stanley Cup Finals. If he can continue to impress against that type of talent, it will go a long way toward him cracking the Flyers roster in 16 days.