The Next JVR?

Nobody ever looked so good walking out the door

I realize I’ve become the scorned ex.

I can’t help but feel constantly let down. Life used to be better.

Sure, things haven’t always been great, but they weren’t that bad.

We had some great times. It used to be so exciting.

Maybe I’m the one that screwed up.

Would things have gotten better if I didn’t do anything?

Damn, I hate you JVR.

Yeah, I’m talking about the former Flyer and second overall pick. Every night I stalk his Toronto box scores. It appears like he’s totally got things together. From the looks of it, he’s having a great time leading a bad Toronto team to 5-5. Maybe he finally got around to working it out in those tough areas of the rink we were always nagging him about. He really looks good.

Sigh.

Last night, James van Riemsdyk scored twice and earned the first star for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who beat the Washington Capitals for the second time in a week. JVR now has six goals, tied for seventh-best in the NHL.

Is he finally reaching that potential he flashed when he scored seven goals in 11 games in the 2011 playoffs? Did the Flyers really give up on him a year later, after an injury-plagued season limited him to 11 goals in 43 games last season?

Even with JVR giving the front office some serious sellers’ remorse, are the Flyers really about to do the same thing again

Last season will always belong to Claude Giroux. Revisionist history will remember it as when Paul Holmgren dealt Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and handed the keys to the franchise to Giroux.

Let’s be real, Giroux was crucial when the Flyers sought a new face of the franchise, but so was van Riemsdyk.

Despite a fast start, van Riemsdyk never took off on Giroux’s wing before getting hurt. Then he got lost in the Flyers’ depth at wing. He only averaged 15:10 of ice time, 16th on the team, and 2:45 per 60 minutes on the power play, eighth on the team (both including players who played at least 20 games).

Sure, he didn’t become a modern day John LeClair like the Flyers wanted, but he wasn’t bad. Injuries and a 7.53 on-ice shooting percentage (according to behindthenet.ca) dented his final numbers, which would have translated to about 21 goals and 25 assists over 82 games. Forty-six points is still a solid figure.

Hell, 49 points got Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek contract extensions. Playing on pace for forty-six got JVR traded.

By the end of the season, JVR was an afterthought when he was supposed to be a stalwart on the top offensive line with Giroux.

When JVR went off in the 2011 playoffs, it was like something finally clicked. In reality, the most significant thing to click was in Peter Laviolette.

Van Riemsdyk averaged 14:32 on ice in the regular season. That number jumped to 19:23 in the playoffs. He also started in the offensive zone 63 percent of the time after 53 percent in the regular season.

While JVR elevated his play in the playoffs, his 2011-12 follow-up season was not poor. His minutes went back down and he did not receive the same offensive leverage. He continued developing based on his previous seasons and had become a good player who was no longer getting premium offensive minutes.

Van Riemsdyk never got even close to a full season to show what he could contribute. He didn’t get enough power play time and did not get to those top-line minutes despite playing strong hockey.

As I wrote earlier, the Flyers are starting to go down a similar path with a current player.

Brayden Schenn was supposed to make the Richards trade worthwhile.

An injury derailed his rookie season before a stellar playoff effort renewed hope for the future. Schenn came into this season on the top line with Giroux, an experiment that lasted, oh, two games.

Last night, the 21-year-old Schenn started the game on a line with Zac Rinaldo and played only 10:42. He’s averaging 14:19 in nine games, 15th on the team and less than Mike Knuble, who was not even on a roster two weeks ago (this should start feeling pretty similar).

Despite the lack of minutes, Schenn is riding a three-game point streak and has five points in nine games. Obviously this is a ridiculously small sample size, but it translates to 46 points over 82 games.

Making that number more impressive is the 7.14 shooting percentage while he’s on the ice heading into last night’s game.

Now, he hasn’t been great, but he’s 21. He had 33 points in as many games for the Phantoms. According to behindthenet’s AHL projections, he should be expected to average .41 points per game or 34 points in 82 games. Essentially, he’s played to his projection.

Considering we’ve already freaked out positively and negatively regarding Schenn and he hasn’t played 10 games this season, I feel safe saying this won’t stop any time soon.

What’s unfortunate is that Laviolette is included in that “we,” and we’ve done this before. With JVR.

Van Riemsdyk really isn’t much better than he was with the Flyers. He’s just another year older and getting about 18 minutes a night. He’s also shooting 17.7 percent. That should regress to the ~10 percent he had throughout the first few years of his career.

That said, JVR is going to put up nice numbers this year and the Flyers will probably regret that trade for the next decade.

It’s really hard to stay patient, especially when the Flyers are constantly trying to win immediately and do not seem to believe in letting players develop in the minor leagues. But Schenn, like most prospects, requires a patient approach.

Without one the Flyers will be watching him produce in another city questioning what they should have done differently.

Posted on February 6, 2013, in Flyers, Nick Carroll, Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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