2019-20 Flyers season grades: James van Riemsdyk

2019-20 Flyers season grades: James van Riemsdyk

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at James van Riemsdyk.

Destra

When it comes to van Riemsdyk, he is a key example when explaining hot streaks players can have in the NHL. For example, he didn’t produce a single point in the opening seven games of the 2019-20 season — but he registered six points (three goals, three assists) across the next three. There were also two separate times where he went pointless for eight consecutive games. It’s not ideal by any means, but he still found a way to finish his season with 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists). 

He also suffered a fracture to his right index finger just a week before the season came to a halt. While the Flyers would have most likely missed the winger in at least the first round of the playoffs, they’ll have No. 25 back in full health thanks to the league hiatus. Let’s hope he finds himself in a hot streak when it matters most in this run. 

I’ll give van Riemsdyk a B-. There are a handful of aspects to his game where he can improve, but he brings a calm and confident presence during every shift, which is beneficial to the team as a whole. 

Fordyce 

The Flyers rely on JVR to provide offense for this team, and he definitely provides it in bunches; the key word being bunches. The Flyers invested a lot in JVR before last season, and he’s really a one-trick pony — causing havoc in front of opposing goaltenders and scoring goals. JVR, for a big guy, has soft hands around the net, the absolute strength of his game.

The issue with JVR is his streakiness. When JVR is in a hot streak, he’s a dominant force and it seems like he’s constantly around the puck, scoring goals and causing problems in front. However, when he goes cold, it’s easy to not notice JVR in some games. A player of his size and with his ability needs to be consistently visible and impactful in games. The Flyers hope they get the hot streak version of JVR when the playoffs resume. 

B for JVR.

Hall

During the 2019-20 regular season, van Riemsdyk was streaky from an offensive production standpoint; most pure goal-scorers tend to be streaky.

If you watched closely, though, van Riemsdyk played some of his best 200-foot hockey in Alain Vigneault's system. With his size and ability to shield off opposing defenders, he helped augment Vigneault's system even when he wasn't scoring.

JVR moved up and down the lineup, played in the bottom six, saw different power play units and was able to produce 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) and the team's fourth-most shots (151) in 66 games.

Over the last two regular seasons, the Flyers have gone 39-13-4 when van Riemsdyk records at least one point (22-5-0 this season).

He'll be critical in the 24-team tournament and deserves at least a B when you factor in all the circumstances this season.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Nate Thompson

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Nate Thompson

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Nate Thompson.

Destra

Thompson arrived just over two weeks before the NHL hiatus was put in place amid the coronavirus outbreak, so we were only able to see him dress for seven games as a Flyer. Unlike Derek Grant — who found instant chemistry with the team — Thompson struggled to find his place in the lineup. 

While he had only one assist through those games, it didn’t take long for Flyers fans to root for the 35-year-old veteran. In just his fourth game as a Flyer, he made a statement and dropped the gloves against the Capitals’ Tom Wilson after he laid a hit on Thompson’s new teammate Michal Raffl. 

He already has the respect of Philadelphia; let’s just hope the production will follow suit. 

Since it was a rather small portion of play, Thompson is getting an incomplete from me — but gets an A for jumping right into things and possessing qualities that Flyers fans respect immensely. 

Fordyce 

Thompson was acquired at the trade deadline from Montreal, and in his seven games with the Flyers, he registered one assist. Grant’s production in the seven games he played with the Flyers allowed us to give him a grade of an A, but for Thompson, seven games is not nearly enough of a sample size.

With that being said, the Flyers haven’t and won’t be asking much of Thompson aside from being a bottom-six forward who plays a smart disciplined game, a role that Thompson has played throughout his career. 

An incomplete for Thompson from me.

Hall

General manager Chuck Fletcher added Thompson at the deadline for depth, experience and help on the penalty kill, taking the load off some of the team's bigger performers. Thompson is a 35-year-old who has played in an Eastern Conference Final and a Western Conference Final, a center with a pedigree of winning faceoffs and impacting the game in limited minutes.

The Flyers got Thompson for only seven games (they went 6-1-0 in those contests) before the season was brought to a halt by the coronavirus outbreak. The veteran was a cost-effective acquisition for the Flyers and could help them during this playoff run.

"Bringing Nate the way Chuck did there at the trade deadline gives us an experienced guy, a veteran guy that’s been through some wars and battles," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said during training camp. "A real great example for our younger players. His presence on the line that he plays on and the help that he does for us on the penalty killing is a big part. You need depth, you need players who have got that character and have been through it. Nate is certainly a guy who’s been in the NHL for quite a few years and he brings a lot of experience to our team."

Thompson isn't a guy that's going to score in bunches or stand out by creating chance after chance. He gets a B- because of the small sample size but for also being a dependable role guy the team expected.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Sanheim

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Sanheim

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Travis Sanheim.

Destra

Sanheim has been a player that continues to grow with each season he plays — when he’s given the opportunity to succeed, that is. Through his first three years in the NHL, he has become a vital asset to the blue line for the Flyers, only further solidifying the defensive depth within the organization. 

His partner shifted a few times this season between Philippe Myers and Justin Braun, but as time progressed, he and Myers were able to create a pretty exciting, dynamic second pair for the time they were together. Given Sanheim is only 24 years old and Myers 23, that’s one heck of a pairing to look forward to for years to come. 

Sanheim also averaged 20:09 of ice time for 2019-20, which is a new career high. It’s a subtle indication that he’s earned the trust of head coach Alain Vigneault — and rightfully so. 

Sanheim gets a B+.

Fordyce 

Sanheim struggled early on, with several mistakes resulting directly in goals against, and it appeared that Sanheim had lost his way a bit. As the season wore on though, Sanheim stuck with it, found his groove and at times looked every bit the part of a first-round pick.

The thing that stands out most about Sanheim when he’s doing well is his skating ability for the size, which is a huge advantage. This season we saw Sanheim show why he could have a bright future in this league. After the early portion of this season, Sanheim’s plus-minus rating wasn’t looking great but he rebounded and finished the season with a plus-4. 

Sanheim gets a B from me.

Hall

Sanheim went through a head-scratching three-game stretch early in the season when he had trouble staying upright with the opposition on the attack.

The stumbles were head-scratching because skating is one of Sanheim's biggest strengths.

Vigneault wisely maintained his trust in the young blueliner.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to let things work themselves out, by putting him back there, showing him that we’ve got faith in him,” the Flyers' head coach said Nov. 2. “Different guys have different money in the bank. He doesn’t have a lot of money in the bank but he’s got a little bit of money in the bank. I’ll give him time to work his way back. He’s a real good kid. Coaches have a tendency to be behind real good kids.”

Sanheim continued to take positive strides in the 2019-20 regular season after earning the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy last season as the club's most improved player. This season, Sanheim played the most minutes per game (20:09) and shorthanded minutes per game (1:48) of his career, while forming a high-upside defensive pair with Myers.

Sanheim is 24 years old, starting to gain all-situation responsibility and hasn't reached his ceiling yet, which is exciting.

A promising B for Sanheim as he put more on his plate and didn't take a step backward.

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