The story all summer has been how Mike Testwuide is going to make the Flyers out of camp. With rookies reporting to Voorhees this morning (actually, Testwuide has been in town all summer, but nevertheless), that story is popping up yet again.
Paul Holmgren has said several times this summer that he really likes Testwuide, the former Colorado College standout, and that he thinks he could challenge for a spot out of camp. That was reiterated today in a report on CSNPhilly.com, where Testwuide compared himself to James van Riemsdyk.
Testwuide, whose quickness on skates is noticeable during drills, is not all that different in terms of where he is right now and where James van Riemsdyk was a year ago.
"We’re big power forwards," Testwuide said of JVR. "He has a tremendous skill set. I have more physical play in me. I definitely look at a guy like him coming into the NHL and making an impact, and say, ‘why not me?’ I think I can do it."
Sure, it's a nice narrative. You have a college guy coming into camp for the first time, and it's a great story if he's able to make the team. Holmgren wants him to make it and has said as much. If you look at the numbers, though, this just doesn't add up.
First off, the Flyers can't even fit a proven NHLer in Bill Guerin on this roster. Where are they going to fit a guy like Testwuide, an undrafted college prospect who had, quite honestly, one decent season in the NCAA ranks?
Second, van Riemsdyk was the second overall pick in the NHL Draft three years ago, and if you compare his numbers with New Hampshire to Testwuide's with CC, it's obvious that there are differences. Sure, Testwuide's senior season saw him put up 31 points, including 26 goals. But his freshman and junior seasons were absolutely terrible (only 10 points and nine points, respectively) and his sophomore season was just okay.
Meanwhile, in his freshman season at UNH, van Riemsdyk stepped in and immediately lived up to the hype that his draft status created. He was third on the Wildcats in points with 34, behind two seniors that put up better numbers than Testwuide did in his senior season. Those two seniors, Mike Radja and Matt Fornatado, haven't even sniffed NHL ice.
In his sophomore season, JVR put up 40 points in 36 games, leading the Wildcats. After the season, he stepped up played a few games with the Phantoms. In camp that fall, he made the team despite many people saying he needed more seasoning.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, as our own Geoff Detweiler detailed last month, Testwuide is only projected to be as good as Jason Ward was with the Phantoms last season.
Even still, a guy who's expected to chip in 39 points in the AHL at age 23 isn't exactly forcing his way into the NHL lineup. Last year, Jason Ward scored 29 points for the Phantoms in 56 games, equaling 42 points over an 82-game season. Testwuide would be on track to replace Ward's production, which would still be a net-win for the Phantoms since Testwuide is more likely to improve upon that expectation than Ward is. But that isn't an improvement for the Flyers, at least not this year.
Testwuide might someday be a fourth-liner NHLer with a big body, but that's just not the case now. He doesn't have the skill set of James van Riemsdyk and he doesn't have the potential. Those are just facts, and it would be foolish for the Flyers to test him otherwise.
He needs to taste professional hockey and transform from the type of player who was relied on to score goals in college to the type of player that uses his big frame and grinds on the fourth line in the NHL. Someday, he can make the Flyers in that role, and perhaps he can even adapt and surprise us and do better than that.
To expect that right now, though, just doesn't seem fair to him or to the current Flyers he would replace on the roster.