We continue our not-completed, not-gonna-be-completed Grading The Flyers series today with a look at James van Riemsdyk. Ironically, this was written last weekend before JvR signed a massive contract extension, but of course, that also provides some unique context here.
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#21 / Left Wing / Philadelphia Flyers
The season didn't start out very well for van Riemsdyk, as he went scoreless through the first twenty one games of the year. It didn't help that he was scratched for four of those games, but that's what happens when you go through a drought like van Riemsdyk did.
What doesn't usually happen, however, is that a former number two overall pick is shopped to the League after only 115 games played. Many don't believe the Flyers shopped van Riemsdyk (although, after shopping Jeff Carter and Mike Richards this summer, maybe they've changed their minds) despite two different sources reporting on it. It doesn't matter, though, since van Riemsdyk would reel off a three-game goal streak at the end of November.
While that's all well and good, I don't think anybody really cares about van Riemsdyk's regular season. He improved in every advanced stats category except CorsiRel, which is understandable with his drop in offensive zone starts and spike in the quality of his competition. Across the board, van Riemsdyk improved dramatically during the regular season.
But it was his performance in the playoffs that caught everybody's attention. Seven goals on seventy shots in eleven playoff games, with over nineteen minutes per game. And he did this:
The superb year van Riemsdyk had may not have jumped out at people who followed his counting stats, but his playoff performance sure did. And while he wasn't the reason the Flyers traded Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, the Flyers surely noticed how well van Riemsdyk played from Thanksgiving on.
So while van Riemsdyk showed marked improvement in the regular season and was one of the very few bright spots in the playoffs, the expectations next year are only going to go higher while the weight placed on him will only get heavier. After last year, it seems like a good bet to make.
Grading criteria: We assign grades on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the best. We base our grades on expectations, execution on those expectations and a player's overall potential. A 10 means that the player had a fantastic, expectation-surpassing season, a 5 means the player met expectations, and a 1 means that he was horrible and needs to go. Like, yesterday.
The grade: Based purely on the regular season van Riemsdyk would have gotten a 6, but the playoff performance bumps him up to a 7. A six may seem harsh, but it's hard to ignore the terrible start to the year and the under-whelming counting stats. Still, a seven is nothing to sneeze at.