In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards awarding enormous contracts to young NHL players based on what they might accomplish rather than what they have accomplished. Some of these players may have had a good playoff season. Some may have shown occasional glimpses of brilliance.
Now don't get me wrong. I do feel that a lot of players deserve to be paid in the millions of dollars given their spot in the public eye and the fact that this money will have to last them after their hockey careers are done. There are possibly many reasons behind the scenes why some players get rewarded well after many years of service.
However, I do feel this trend toward huge contracts for players before they have done the real work needs to be reversed.
One of those players who just hasn't performed to a standard of improvement that everyone has expected is James Van Riemsdyk. He has been awarded big money, but that money has not translated into huge improvements in his playmaking smarts on the ice, nor has it improved his point totals.
Last summer when it was announced that he was given a hefty raise, myself, like many other Flyer fans, assumed that the coming season would mean that he would be putting up more points, performing miracles and being more of a leader on the ice.
Should The Flyers Trade James Van Riemsdyk?
However, it is Claude Giroux who has stepped into that role faster than anyone could have imagined and flourished. Van Riemsdyk has been mostly invisible, save for a handful of games where he was placed on the top line and the puck was put on his stick so skillfully by Giroux or Hartnell that anyone standing there could get a couple of easy goals.
My point is that he is not creating these goals or plays. He seems to be either complacent, injured (which I don't count as a major excuse to hockey smarts) or he just will never have that special talent that Giroux has.
Whatever it is that the powers that be in Flyers management see in Van Riemsdyk, I must honestly state that I have never seen it during the course of the past three seasons, except for a couple of games in last season's four-game playoff series against the Boston Bruins.
At a time like this, where the Flyers are in need of a defenseman of the alpha kind to replace the almost devastating loss of injury-cursed Chris Pronger, a player like Van Riemsdyk might be exactly the type of bait needed to lure the right guy to Philadelphia. A big, younger player labeled with potential (be it real or perceived) will always perk up the interest of a team of the rebuilding or penny-pinching variety, especially if they have a big name free agent that they will likely be unable to re-sign.
I have my fingers crossed. What are your thoughts on trading Van Riemsdyk for a defenseman? I would love to hear your comments.
Edit: Since this article was written, JVR has been sidelined with a concussion. I would like to wish him a speedy recovery.