Flyers

No downplaying it, James van Riemsdyk's injury can be damaging for Flyers

No downplaying it, James van Riemsdyk's injury can be damaging for Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — The next-man-up mentality is a popular mantra across sports whenever a teammate goes down.

In the NHL, it's especially beloved. Hockey players are held up as the toughest of athletes renowned for playing through everything and anything. 

No excuses, whatever it takes.

So, naturally, when the Flyers left the practice ice and started to fill the locker room Monday, the feeling was like any other day, with regular energy and chatter.

But something was missing and there was no hiding it.

James van Riemsdyk's big 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame was not filling his locker stall. The left winger is out approximately five to six weeks with a lower-body injury (see story). As much as the Flyers try to unflappably and admirably push onward, losing their free-agent splash for possibly a month and a half just two games into his reunion is no joke.

This will test the Flyers' character, depth and health out of the chute for a season expected to serve as the biggest step in general manager Ron Hextall's process.

"It's obviously a big loss for us," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "But in the short term, it'll challenge us and challenge our depth and challenge somebody else to step in and do a good job."

There seems to be an outside perception of van Riemsdyk as a player that only scores goals and does very little else. He had just 18 assists last season and has been knocked for his defense in the past. Hockey, however, doesn't have to be so complicated. Ultimately, the teams that win are the teams that score and van Riemsdyk has a track record of consistently putting the puck in the net.

The 29-year-old did not score 36 goals by accident last season. He's poured in 30-plus twice. No Flyer can say that other than Wayne Simmonds.

Five to six weeks without such a skill can be damaging for a team not known to always start fast. In 2017-18, the Flyers were 8-8-2 with 18 points a month and a half into the season. Their 10-game skid was just beginning, which eventually dropped them to 8-11-7 by Dec. 2. The final result was the Flyers having to scrap and claw to clinch a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season.

How the Flyers move forward and get by will be worth watching, game by game.

To start, Jordan Weal will fill van Riemsdyk's third-line slot alongside rookie center Mikhail Vorobyev and right winger Simmonds. For the sake of comparison, Weal is 26, a natural center and in his second full NHL season with 16 career goals. JVR had 16 goals in his first 34 regular-season games last season.

The net-front power-play prowess will be another missed aspect as the Flyers can roll out two versatile and experienced units when van Riemsdyk is at his best. The Flyers will insert 22-year-old Oskar Lindblom onto the second-unit man advantage. The 2014 fifth-round pick who turned himself into an anticipated prospect owns three goals in 25 career games.

Opportunity is prevalent and questions must be answered for the Flyers.

"Obviously it sucks," Simmonds said. "Riemer's a great player, but we've got to keep going."

Almost as if they never signed van Riemsdyk. That is life again, for now.

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Flyers Talk podcast: NHL playoff race, trade deadline and more

Flyers Talk podcast: NHL playoff race, trade deadline and more

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall debate the playoff race and share some insight on Claude Giroux.

From the Jeff Carter buzz to Nolan Patrick's situation, it's time to talk all things Flyers:

• 0:40 — Emmer loves to sing (hear her beautiful voice at the end)

2:00 — The win over the Blue Jackets looked like a statement

16:45 — Emmer wants to see postseason hockey in Philly

17:50 — Are the Flyers about to solidify their playoff berth?

24:40 — A Carter reunion?!?!

28:00 — Will Patrick play this season?

33:20 — Insight on Giroux as a Flyer

41:15 — Trade deadline show!

42:10 — Emmer's hockey joke of the day!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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Flyers NHL trade deadline option: Jean-Gabriel Pageau splash possible?

Flyers NHL trade deadline option: Jean-Gabriel Pageau splash possible?

Leading up to the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline, we'll look at potential targets on the market and why they may or may not fit the Flyers' plans.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Age: 27
Height: 5-10
Weight: 180
Team: Ottawa Senators
2019-20 cap hit: $3.1 million

Scouting report

There's a lot to like with Pageau, from his age to his upside. The righty-shot center has already scored a career-high 24 goals for the Senators, who are one of the NHL's bottom five clubs.

Pageau possesses some Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes characteristics in that he values the 200-foot game, impacts the penalty kill, can scale a lineup and brings offensive potential, to boot.

While Pageau is four points away from surpassing his career high of 43 set in 2015-16, he is playing his largest role yet on a team in rebuild mode.

Could that be a red flag to suitors in contention with deeper lineups? The Athletic's senior NHL columnist Pierre LeBrun provided excellent insight on the matter in a recent article, writing how that question has been raised, yet Pageau's track record and makeup also hold weight.

Projection

Ottawa will want a sizable return for Pageau and the Flyers are not in an ideal position to land his services. Without recent call-up Mark Friedman on the roster, the Flyers would have just over $2 million in cap space. The Senators are likely not going to consider retaining salary to help necessitate a deal for their big chip, so a trade would require the Flyers to clear cap space, which would require some legitimate subtraction.

Not only that, but Ottawa could also very well eye a first- or second-round pick and possibly a prospect, as well. The Senators won't — and shouldn't — be shy in their demands. After all, they could instead attempt to re-sign Pageau, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason — another caveat for the Flyers. Would they want to risk so much for a player who might walk at season's end?

Pageau should be on the Flyers' radar, but general manager Chuck Fletcher has been pleased with his team's growth, likes its chances and won't be so quick to mortgage the future during the first full year of his process.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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