James Van Riemsdyk was selected second overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft.
James Van Riemsdyk was the Philadelphia Flyers highest pick since they selected Joni Pitkanen fourth overall in 2002.
They had not even cracked the top 10 in the draft since 1992 when they selected Ryan Sittler.
The year before that they selected Peter Forsberg with the sixth overall pick.
History would have the Philadelphia Flyers go on and trade Peter Forsberg in the mega-blockbuster trade, which gave them Eric Lindros.
Eric Lindros at the time was touted as the “Next One.” That title was a play on the nickname given to Wayne Greztky, “Great One.”
Now Eric Lindros never quite lived up to the expectations, but he did average over a point per game, and was a Hart Memorial Finalist. His postseason resume is pretty impressive also: 54 games 24 goals and 33 assists.
If not for injury Eric Lindros would most likely have been in the same conversations as Lemieux, Gretzky and Orr.
Peter Forsberg and Mike Ricci, the Philadelphia Flyers other two top-10 draft picks went on to have successful careers. Peter Forsberg should be a Hall of Famer one day.
While Eric Lindros busted into the League with 41 goals and 34 assists, James Van Riemsdyk has a ways to go.
However, not everyone can break into the league the way ol’ 88 did way back when. Let’s remember too that ol’ 88 had a shortened career.
James Van Riemsdyk, though, has started to find himself.
With a slow start to the regular season, James Van Riemsdyk finished with 21 goals and registered his first hat trick.
His postseason resume is where things get interesting. While last year was nothing special, JVR, as he is dubbed by the Philly Phaithful, did register a huge goal in Game 7 against Boston.
In that game the Flyers found themselves down three goals to none. Coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout, and told his players to just get one goal by the period’s conclusion.
James Van Riemsdyk answered the coach as he slid a puck under Tuuka Rask and ignited the biggest comeback in Flyer’s history, arguably the NHL’s too.
This past season, the Philadelphia Flyers found themselves staggering into the playoffs. The team looked bipolar as one game they were dominant and others could not be bothered to score a goal.
Hindsight tells us that this manic depressive performance can be attributed to locker room strife, injuries and inadequate goaltending.
One thing developed on a positive: James Van Riemsdyk started to find himself.
It all started with the Philadelphia Flyers annual skills competition. JVR dominated the competition by registering the hardest shot (101.5 mph!), winning both the breakaway relay and one-on-one puck-control contest.
It has been surmised by several local Philadelphia analysts that James Van Riemsdyk started to gain his confidence after said skill competition. That very confidence is believed to be something he did not quite have before.
With confidence now in hand James Van Riemsdyk went on to have what is considered a coming out party in the playoffs.
In 11 games, JVR registered seven goals on 70 shots. If, now this is a big “IF”, he is able to continue that pace through the regular season, that would give him 63 goals!
Now, I hardly believe that would happen. Should James Van Riemsdyk continue to play close to that level he played, you can expect 35-to-40 goals!
Additional ice time and joining the power-play unit are sure to give JVR the opportunities he needs.
That last goal prediction is what the Philadelphia Flyers brass expect, considering they traded a 30-goal scorer in Jeff Carter. When doing so, they knew full well, or at least expected, James Van Riemsdyk to fill that void.
The possibility that James Van Riemsdyk could be playing on a line with active all-time leading scorer Jaromir Jagr makes that a real possibility.
Jagr’s skills have diminished, but he still has those soft hands to feed a hard-charging James Van Riemsdyk going to the net.
With Claude Giroux or Danny Briere centering that line, James Van Riemsdyk has every reason to stay confident.
When a team moves two players like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards while expressing their hopes of young players like Van Riemsdyk and Giroux, expectations mount.
Perhaps the general media and fan base have not dubbed James Van Riemsdyk, the next “Next One,” but Flyers management has. With the slow start to his career, James Van Riemsdyk will be sure to surprise some critics or doubters this year.
The scoring touch is there and so is the physical play. While Eric Lindros was more of a physical presence, so were his injuries. Those injuries are greatly attributed to said physical play.
James Van Riemsdyk has managed to stay out of the injury-bug's path. That might also be attributed to his toned down physical play when compared to Lindros.
That balanced combination of physical play and scoring touch is why I dub JVR the Philadelphia Flyers next "Next One."