The Philadelphia Flyers made massive changes to a roster that just two years ago was two wins away from being Stanley Cup Champions. They have traded away their captain and top scorer for a younger and unproven group of players, including top prospect Brayden Schenn.
Many Flyers fans find it hard to believe that this current roster has their team in a better position to win a Stanley Cup than in previous years, but the Vegas odds-makers feel differently, as they have them at seven-to-one odds behind only the Vancouver Canucks.
Surprised? Don't be. The Philadelphia Flyers were able to trade away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter because they have a star in the making who is ready for more ice time in James Van Riemsdyk.
Here are five reasons why JVR is ready to become a superstar.
James Van Riemsdyk realized that he needed to get a lot stronger if he wanted to be the impact player that everyone expected him to be. So he hit the weight room hard last offseason and came into camp 10 pounds heavier, filling out his 6"3' frame with 200 lbs. of muscle.
JVR is able to use his big body to shield the puck from defenders in the corner and showed in the playoffs that he will hit anything that moves. Flyers fans have been waiting for the youngster to use his big frame as the wrecking ball that it can be, and that time has arrived.
Van Riemsdyk is brimming with confidence and will use his imposing size to do whatever it takes to win.
James Van Riemsdyk has blazing speed, and it became crystal clear in the 2011 playoffs that no one in the NHL can stop him when he gets a full head of steam going. His long strides down the left wing (coupled with his size and strength) seemed unstoppable for much of the postseason, where he was the Flyers best player.
JVR has always had great speed and he is finally filling out his large frame. His combination of size and speed is scary for the rest of the NHL and is why the Flyers took him with the second overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft.
James Van Riemsdyk was quite simply the best player on the Philadelphia Flyers during the playoffs. Not coincidentally, his average ice time jumped from 14:32 in the regular season to 19:23 in the playoffs.
JVR finished with seven goals (one game-winner) and 70 SOG in just 11 playoff games and seemed like he was going to score every shift he was on the ice. One rush after another featured Van Riemsdyk streaking down the left wing and either firing a blazing wrister or deking the pants off of Ryan Miller or Tim Thomas.
JVR took his game to another level in the playoffs and will build on that confidence to become a superstar this season.
James Van Riemsdyk has one of the hardest slap shots in the entire NHL. Don't believe me? Look no further than the 101.5 mph "slapper" he registered at the Philadelphia Flyers skill competition last year.
He has an extremely strong core that enables him to generate a ton of power on his slap shot and wrist shot as well. He scored 21 goals in 2010-2011, and he has a complete arsenal of moves to go along with his terrific shot, size and speed.
Total package indeed.
James Van Riemsdyk notched 21 goals and 19 assists for 40 points last season, but there is another statistic that shows just how valuable JVR was to this team: He was a plus-15 on the season and consistently was working just as hard on the defensive end as the offensive.
The sign of a true superstar in the NHL is that they are willing to get to the dirty areas in the defensive zone and outwork the opposition to win the puck. They will do whatever it takes to help the team win and put the success of the team ahead of personal accolades and glory.
JVR will take the body, stick up for his teammates and be a vocal leader if necessary. The 2010-2011 playoffs featured JVR as one of its best players; the NHL better get used to that, as JVR is just starting to realize how great he can really be.