VOORHEES, N.J. — Two games into the regular season and the Flyers have already taken a blow.
James van Riemsdyk, the biggest free-agent signing of the Ron Hextall era, will miss approximately five to six weeks with a lower-body injury suffered in last Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Avalanche.
A five-week absence would have the left winger out until at least Nov. 10, a span of 14 games (see story).
At Monday's practice, Jordan Weal skated with Wayne Simmonds and rookie center Mikhail Vorobyev, which will likely be the first look head coach Dave Hakstol uses for the new third line. Weal was a healthy scratch over the first two regular-season games.
"Playing a new position at wing, there are so many different little wall plays that you get on the boards, different circumstances that you have to react to and know how to deal with," Weal, a natural center, said last month (see story). "A lot of that was just trying to get comfortable with those and I feel like toward the end of the year, I was. Maybe in the beginning I was stressing out a little too much about those things."
In Saturday's game, van Riemsdyk blocked two shots in a three-second span around the midway point of the opening period. He played 5:13 and never came out for the second stanza.
The 29-year-old van Riemsdyk scored 36 goals last season for the Maple Leafs — a total that would have been first on the 2017-18 Flyers — and his 65 markers over the past two seasons were tied for 15th most in the NHL with John Tavares.
The injury should open up second-unit power-play opportunities for Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick. The 20-year-old Patrick flourished in a net-front role down the stretch last season, leading the Flyers with five goals on the man advantage over the final 23 regular-season games.
Here were the Flyers' forward groups at practice:
Claude Giroux — Sean Couturier —Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom — Nolan Patrick — Travis Konecny
Jordan Weal — Mikhail Vorobyev — Wayne Simmonds
Scott Laughton — Jori Lehtera — Michael Raffl