As Flyers sell for 3rd straight trade deadline, van Riemsdyk waits out his fate


VOORHEES, N.J. — John Tortorella made it clear Monday: "We're not getting in the playoffs."

And Chuck Fletcher made it clear Tuesday: "We're selling."

The Flyers are doing so for a third straight season, a clear indication they are amid a restart of sorts and a pretty sizable one at that.

"Next year is going to be a grind, too," Tortorella said. "This is a process. It's going to take time."

The NHL trade deadline is Friday at 3 p.m. ET and the Flyers will be shedding pieces. They're set out to get younger and Fletcher said they're "willing to listen on just about anything if it makes sense."

That doesn't mean they'll do everything; but the Flyers are definitely not in a position to tightly grip a hefty list of untouchables.

They're 48-74-21 over the last two seasons — 25-46-11 last season; 23-28-10 this season — so Fletcher has to consider just about everything with the Flyers' roster.

"The rosters change on a daily basis, but as of a few days ago, I believe we were the seventh-youngest roster in the NHL. Last year, at the beginning of the year, we were 30th. Clearly we're getting younger," the Flyers' general manager said. "Torts and his staff have been working hard on building the standard and trying to reestablish the Flyer identity of being a hard team to play against. Defensively, we're getting better. Clearly we have work to do.


"It's going to be a longer process than maybe what we want, but I think we're starting to build the right way and integrate a lot of young players into our team."

It's highly likely James van Riemsdyk will be playing his final game with the Flyers on Wednesday when the team hosts the Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET/TNT). The 33-year-old winger has scored 30 or more goals twice in his career, owns playoff experience and is on an expiring, five-year, $35 million contract.

For pending unrestricted free agents on selling clubs, this time of year can be unsettling whenever the phone buzzes.

"I actually keep my phone on airplane mode for most of the time," van Riemsdyk said Tuesday with a laugh. "You'll have to send a smoke signal or something. But yeah, I've had to keep it on a little bit more now. Usually when I go home, I try to unplug and just spend some family time and stuff like that. Certainly now, I've got to be a little more accessible."

After practice Tuesday, van Riemsdyk wasn't ready to reflect too much on his career with the Flyers. After all, he's still a Flyer for now, with at least one more game to play.

In his reunion with the Flyers, van Riemsdyk made the playoffs just once over his five-year contract and it came in the Toronto bubble with no fans (2020 after the COVID-19 pause). If and when he's moved, he'll be joining a club with playoff aspirations.

"I think that's why we all play, is to get a chance to win and be in that environment," van Riemsdyk said. "Playoff hockey is the most exciting brand of hockey to play. From that level of it, every year that you're watching it on TV at home, it sucks. You want to be there and you want to be playing in it. Especially the longer you go in your career, you realize how hard it is to win and how you have to really cherish every chance you get at that. Certainly it'd be something that would be exciting."

At the deadline, the Flyers will look for drafts picks, prospects or both in return on their trades.

"The goal is to get better and to get value," Fletcher said of the Flyers' current state, "not just to move guys out."

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