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2018-19 Player Review: James van Riemsdyk proved to be worth every penny

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In his return to Philadelphia, the power forward was exactly what this Flyers team needed on offense.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In his first stint in Philadelphia, James van Riemsdyk failed to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him as the number two overall pick. In his return to the Flyers this season, he lived up to the expectations and posted a strong yet injury shortened campaign. The forward proved to be the goal scoring medicine for a team that desperately craved a pure goal scoring winger, and should continue scoring for years to come.


By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
66 27 21 48 18 167 16.2

JVR went down after just the second game of the season with a lower body injury which sidelined him until mid-November, and despite starting slow after returning, he became a big reason why the Flyers were even slightly in contention down the stretch. From the New Year’s Day game vs. Nashville to the end of the season, he scored 35 points in 44 games and 22 goals in the process. The main need of the Flyers ever since Jeff Carter was traded has been a pure goal scorer, and that is exactly what van Riemsdyk provided for the team. His 0.41 goals per game average was the second best of his career only to last season where he scored 36 goals in 81 games.

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
1.91 1.27 13.29 0.69

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Score-Adjusted Corsi For % SA-Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM Score Adjusted-Expected Goals For SA-Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
Score-Adjusted Corsi For % SA-Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM Score Adjusted-Expected Goals For SA-Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
44.95 -4.33 -3.47 46.23 -3.11 46.15 100.67

So as we dive further into the stats the numbers admittedly do look less impressive for JVR. He’s never really been known as a top notch play driver, and he absolutely faced a bigger responsibility this season than he did last year in Toronto, a team that had far superior depth to the Flyers. Last season in Toronto he averaged just under 15 minutes of ice time compared to this season, where he averaged closer to 17 minutes a game.

Of course, some of these poor metrics can be attributed to the fact the entire team simply wasn’t playing well for much of this season. Add that into the poor system implemented by Dave Hakstol and then Scott Gordon doing not enough to amend those issues, and you have a recipe for disaster. It also doesn’t help that this was JVR’s first season in an entirely new system from what he experienced in Toronto, and the last time he was in Philadelphia. I’d expect these numbers to see a significant increase next season, even with the new system of Alain Vigneault coming into play.

The main thing with JVR is if he’s scoring at this kind of pace, no one including myself, is going to care all that much about his play-driving metrics. Sure, it would be nice to see him post solid metrics as well and be a consistent play-driver, but if he can be surrounded with those kind of players while he takes care of the goal scoring, I think that addresses the issue. He’s paid to score goals, and that’s what we need him to do on a team that needs go-to scoring options. He may not be a sniper, but he’s easily one of the best net front players in the league and a master on the deflections. Vigneault and his coaching staff should realize this and utilize him in this role on a consistent basis especially on the power play.


Three Burning Questions

Did this player live up to our expectations for this season?

100 percent, yes. JVR was brought in to be a prime goal scoring option and he proved to be exactly that almost scoring 30 goals despite missing an entire month. If he played an entire 82 game season he easily would have surpassed the 30 goal mark and possibly been closer to 40. His shooting percentage was a career high at 16.2 percent, but a lot of his goals came from simply being the dominant net front presence that he is. If he can immediately be put into those positions on the first power play unit and at 5-on-5, I think we’ll see another productive goal scoring season from him.

What do we expect from this player next season?

I think expecting a 30 goal season from JVR is fair given his production this season. Without the injury he scores 30 most likely, and unless he sees another major injury I don’t see him having any issues reaching that plateau. A 55-60 point season should be well in the realm of possibility for him, especially since he should take Wayne Simmonds’ spot permanently on the first power play. I expect a really good performance from him on the power play and to improve his play-driving metrics.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

Primarily his play-driving. Again this isn’t something that I’m going to stress too much about JVR because if he’s scoring goals he’s doing his job. He was paid to be a goal scorer and that’s exactly what he was this season. If he can improve on his metrics he becomes only more valuable to the team and to his linemates. Overall, this was a really good first season back in Philadelphia for Reemer.

All data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, hockey-reference, and Corsica.hockey