Flyers sign James van Riemsdyk

Flyers sign James van Riemsdyk

James van Riemsdyk is coming back to Philadelphia.

The Flyers on Sunday signed van Riemsdyk to a five-year contract.

TSN's Frank Seravalli first reported that van Riemsdyk was returning to Philadelphia on Saturday night.

Per ESPN's John Buccigross, van Riemsdyk's contract will be a five-year, $35 million deal with a $7 million annual average value.

While most of Philadelphia awaits what the Sixers will do in free agency, the Flyers surprisingly stole the early spotlight Saturday night.

van Riemsdyk, 29, was originally drafted by the Flyers with the No. 2 overall pick in 2007 and spent his first three NHL seasons in Philly. The Middletown, New Jersey, native scored 47 goals and 99 points in 196 games with the orange and black from 2009-10 to 2011-12.

The Flyers traded JVR to the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 23, 2012, for defenseman Luke Schenn. In his six seasons with the Leafs, van Riemsdyk blossomed into a 30-goal scorer and 60-point man. Last season, he registered 36 goals and 54 points.

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound left winger averaged 25 goals and 49 points in his six seasons in Toronto. He twice hit the 30-goal mark — the 2013-14 season (30) and 2017-18.

JVR is a volume shooter too, which the Flyers desperately need. Last season, he finished the campaign with 248 shots, which ranked 23rd in the NHL.

Cap space isn't the issue with the Flyers, at least not in the short term. According to CapFriendly, the Flyers have $14.7 million in cap space.

Even with the $7 million AAV, they still have money to spend.

By bringing van Riemsdyk back to Philly, Ron Hextall pulled off his first major player transaction as Flyers general manager. Hextall's previous "big" free-agent splurge was Dale Weise for four years, $9.4 million. Most of his UFA signings have been two-year deals.

Before the NHL draft, he said the Flyers wouldn't "reach out on a seven-year deal on a good player." On Friday, Hextall cleared the air about his strategy this summer. 

"I misspoke that day or you guys misunderstood me," Hextall said with a smile. "I said we weren't going to go long term with a good player. Maybe a great player, we'd look at."

Now does van Riemsdyk qualify as a "great player?" That's up for debate.

But van Riemsdyk does significantly upgrade the Flyers' forward group. He's a power-power play threat — scored 11 PP goals last season — though he played a similar role in Toronto as Wayne Simmonds does with the Flyers. That's an interesting piece to watch unfold.

On paper, van Riemsdyk adds a proven scorer in the Flyers' top six and solidifies the forwards. With JVR in the mix, the Flyers finally have legitimate NHL forward depth.

van Riemsdyk joins a group of Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Nolan Patrick, Travis Konecny, Jakub Voracek and Simmonds. The Flyers can now use Oskar Lindblom in a third-line role and the numbers game says the team's third line should feature two scoring wingers.

One of van Riemsdyk, Voracek, Simmonds or Konecny figure to be on the third line if all return to the club next season. If Hextall can upgrade their third-line center, it has all the makings of being a dangerous unit in 2018-19.

For now, though, Hextall silenced his critics by reeling in a relatively big fish.

More on the Flyers

• 5 observations from Flyers development camp

Emotional Hextall, Flyers blown away by Humboldt survivor Straschnitzki

Ron Hextall: Flyers wanted in on John Tavares

• How should the Flyers approach free agency?

• Flyers want to upgrade top 4 — de Haan the guy?

2020 NHL draft profile: Why Jan Mysak is so intriguing

2020 NHL draft profile: Why Jan Mysak is so intriguing

The entire picture for the 2020 NHL draft remains cloudy with the ongoing suspension of the 2019-20 regular season because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Where will the Flyers be picking? When and how will the draft be held? Those questions are currently unanswered.

The Flyers hold seven total selections and, as of right now, are slotted with the 26th overall pick.

“I think it’s a decent draft — I don’t know if it’s top end," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said April 25 in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "The top 10, 12 guys look like pretty high end. There’s a bit of a drop-off, but there’s some depth to the draft for a couple of rounds. We don’t know totally where we’re picking, but we have an idea. We have some guys targeted we feel we would be very happy with in the top couple of rounds and then we still have some work to do to clean up the mid-to-later-round picks.

"Obviously you’d want the big, scoring, playmaking center, anybody does. We’re in a position where we’ll likely be taking the best player available. 

"Realistically the players you draft now are two or three years down the road, best-case scenario. Some cases you get surprised. But by then, your team needs are different. We’ll do the best we can, we have an idea of where our holes are going forward and places where we certainly want to add depth to, whether it’s center or scoring winger or defense, we’ll see what happens. We’ll prepare, we weigh guys against each other, the pros and cons and we’ll do the best we can there.”

This month, we'll continue to break down options for the Flyers at No. 26.

Jan Mysak

Position: Center/winger
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 175
Shoots: Left
Team: Hamilton Bulldogs

Scouting report

There is a ton of intrigue to Mysak, an underager with innate scoring ability and a precocious hockey IQ.

After scoring nine points (five goals, four assists) through 26 games playing against grown men for the Czech Extraliga's HC Litvinov, the 17-year-old transitioned to the OHL and punctuated his draft year. Mysak took off with Hamilton, delivering a pair of hat tricks and 25 points (15 goals, 10 assists) in 22 games. The Czech Republic native played a much bigger role at the junior level, especially with the Bulldogs losing center Jan Jenik to a season-ending injury in December.

Mysak understands the art of scoring. He might not be the flashiest or smoothest, but he's strong, quick and knows how to dissect the opposition. He can also play down the middle and on the wing, versatility that attracts NHL teams in the first round.

“Anybody that can play center is good," Flahr said about Mysak on May 12.

“He had the reputation coming into the year. He played with men the first half, I saw him a number of times over there early. Just like any young player playing with men, he played and worked and did the little things, but wasn’t overly productive, just kind of played safe and played a role. Then midseason, he came over.

"The way it worked with Jenik going down to injury, he stepped right in on the top line and produced right off the bat. He played center when I saw him and he’s played wing overseas when I saw him, but real hard-working, honest, two-way game. You can argue whether he’s more of a shooter or a playmaker, but he’s got some rawness. I think coming over was real good for him.”

Fit with Flyers

The Flyers very well could be eyeing the best center available during the first round after selecting three defensemen, three wingers and a goalie last summer. It's a premium position and every organization is looking for greater depth down the middle. The fact that Mysak can player center and winger is a bonus.

So, will he be available for the Flyers? It's difficult to say.

He's the NHL Central Scouting's 28th-ranked North American skater and TSN's Craig Button rates him as the 34th-best player in the draft. However, in an excellent film review, The Athletic's Scott Wheeler sees Mysak as one of the top forwards among this class.

Some teams might want to see more from Mysak. Some teams might be completely sold.

If the Flyers end up picking at No. 26 overall and Mysak is available, he'd be hard to pass up.

(Brandon Taylor/ProAm Images)

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NHL players post messages to spark dialogue on racial injustice following death of George Floyd

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NHL players post messages to spark dialogue on racial injustice following death of George Floyd

NHL players are not always the most active on social media. They're down-to-earth athletes, seldom saying look at me or hear what I have to say.

That's completely understandable.

Many, though, have posted messages amid the protests across the United States following the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd was killed in police custody after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the 46-year-old black man's neck.

Current and former players shared powerful messages about recognizing the issue of racism and racial injustice — and challenging everyone to come together to make strides in solving the problem.

The messages are important. Listening is also important. Whether somebody sent out a message or not, let's hope reading, listening, discussing and acting can all spark change.

Below are some of the messages from across the league:

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