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Holmgren faces tough decision with JVR


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When Paul Holmgren takes his place at the GM table this summer, it will be interesting to see whether he puts the JVR chip into play. Holmgren has been patiently sitting on it for nearly five years now. Will this be the off-season he cashes it in?

No question, James van Riemsdyk is entering the most important 20 games (and quite possibly the playoffs) of his Flyers career, that could determine his future in this city. As Holmgren recently said, “All season people have been asking about him.”

It's a good sign, a very good sign that just about every team in the league has inquired into the availability of van Riemsdyk. His stock is still high and GMs across the league see the potential that it could climb even higher. If there was a JVR prospectus, it would highlight the following: size, great teammate, 100-mph slap shot, an above-average skater with speed, soft hands and can play strong on the puck at times.

Yet, van Riemsdyk's stock price and contract is more of a reflection of potential at this stage of his career and not so much on productivity, after signing a six-year, $25.5-million contract extension at a cap hit of just over $4 million that goes into effect next season.

It was an unconventional move for sure.

Typically teams just don’t reward players for capturing playoff lightning in a bottle without regular season numbers to back it up.

Don’t believe me?

Antti Niemi has a Stanley Cup.

Michael Leighton pitched three shutouts in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals.

Yet, Ilya Bryzgalov has the mammoth $51-million contract and his postseason numbers over the past two years read something like this: 3-8, 3.77 GAA with a .896 save percentage.

Flyers fans thought they had witnessed the transformation in the 2011 playoffs. JVR was clearly the best NHL forward through the first two rounds of the playoffs. He was flying up and down the ice. He scored a goal in five straight games. He played with a snarl, and he…could…not…be…stopped.

Had van Riemsdyk's teammates played with that same degree of passion, the Boston Bruins would still be searching for their first Stanley Cup Championship in 40-plus years.

This season was set up perfectly for the 22-year-old left winger to have a breakout campaign. He was paired with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr on the Flyers' top line to start the season, and despite two goals in his first five games, it wasn’t enough to keep that trio paired together. Eight games into the season, Scott Hartnell was given top-line royalty status and four months later, he’s still wearing the crown. Hartnell’s season is what I had envisioned for JVR.

We’ve seen glimpses of stardom: a two-goal game on nine shots in that crazy 9-8 loss to Winnipeg and another two-goal game against the Blackhawks in early January. But the cutoff line between "pretty good" and "great" can be summed up in one word: consistency. And that’s what van Riemsdyk doesn’t possess right now.

We saw it in Giroux early on. He scored 27 points in 42 games playing primarily behind Jeff Carter and Mike Richards during the 2008-09 season. It was just a matter of time with Giroux.

Time is now creeping up on JVR and that crystal ball is still hazy. I’m not exactly sure what the Flyers have here. It’s been a rough season. A concussion forced JVR to miss a full month and reports throughout the season have been swirling that he’s been playing hurt, but we still have a large enough sample size to see where JVR measures up.

Take a look at how he compares with two other guys taken in that 2007 draft:

<center> <table border="1" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2" width="220"> <tbody> <tr align="center"> <td> </td> <td> </td> <td> Overall Pick</td> <td style="font-weight: bold; "> Games

Played</td> <td style="font-weight: bold; "> Goals</td> <td style="font-weight: bold; "> Assists</td> <td style="font-weight: bold; "> Points</td> </tr> <tr align="center"> <td> PHI</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> JVR</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 2</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 195</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 47</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 52</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 99</td> </tr> <tr align="center"> <td> SJ</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> Logan Couture</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 9</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 165</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 64</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 53</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 117</td> </tr> <tr> <td> DAL</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> Jamie Benn</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 129</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 203</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 61</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 85</td> <td style="text-align: center; "> 146</td> </tr> </tbody> </table></center>

While van Riemsdyk’s NHL career has been consistently compared to that of Patrick Kane -- somewhat unfairly -- since the day they were drafted 1-2, Couture and Benn are more accurate models. Both players have raised their games to that next level and it resulted in their selections to the All-Star game this season.

Interestingly, when trade rumors swirled and JVR’s name surfaced in connection with San Jose, it was reported no deal would be considered unless Couture was part of the return package. Not only that, but JVR has been also linked with Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn.

As of now, Holmgren patiently holds on to his biggest chip. One that could help replenish a defense if the team fails to re-sign Matt Carle, Pavel Kubina and/or Nicklas Grossman, and Chris Pronger’s health hasn’t improved.

The Flyers have a ton of scoring. They’re the top-ranked offense despite just 11 goals from van Riemsdyk this season.

At some point, Paul Holmgren will stop receiving those inquiring phone calls. JVR will either be the talk of this town or no longer in it.

<a href="http://www.csnphilly.com/blog/flyers-talk/post/Holmgren-faces-tough-decision-with-JVR?blockID=660986&feedID=704">John Burak
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I don't think the decision will be all that tough.

If JvR plays really well down the stretch & through the playoffs, he will almost certainly stay put.

And if some GM decides to vastly overpay in a trade for him, then it's a win-win for the Flyers.

Think about this - he is supposedly overpaid in his coontract extension, yet Homer was fielding (not making) all kinds of calls from other GM's inquiring about trading for him. Kinda tells you a lot about what kind of player everyone expects him to become.

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Kane is mentioned but not compared, why?

At a guess, JVR, Couture, and Benn are all of similar height and weight, and play somewhat more similar styles to each other than any of them do to Kane. Comparing any of them to Kane is like comparing Wayne Gretzky to Mark Messier. Messier would come off worse in the comparison from a purely statistical standpoint, but his role on the ice and off is entirely different, and if Gretzky were asked to play Messier's game and vice versa, the two would be substantially lesser for it. It's more accurate to compare like to like, so Kane was kept out of it.

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At a guess, JVR, Couture, and Benn are all of similar height and weight, and play somewhat more similar styles to each other than any of them do to Kane. Comparing any of them to Kane is like comparing Wayne Gretzky to Mark Messier. Messier would come off worse in the comparison from a purely statistical standpoint, but his role on the ice and off is entirely different, and if Gretzky were asked to play Messier's game and vice versa, the two would be substantially lesser for it. It's more accurate to compare like to like, so Kane was kept out of it.

This is a load of crap, the bottom line is Kane is at another level than these guys period. It was a weak draft otherwise JVR would not have been the 2nd overall pick..

you can't exclude Kane just because he's simply better than everyone else..

don't mention Messier and JVR in the same sentence please..

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This is a load of crap, the bottom line is Kane is at another level than these guys period. It was a weak draft otherwise JVR would not have been the 2nd overall pick..

you can't exclude Kane just because he's simply better than everyone else..

don't mention Messier and JVR in the same sentence please..

Kane probably wasn't included because the Flyers never had a chance to select him.

One angle on JvR that some GM's may have is that he has never had steady line mates. Perhaps the belief is that his untapped potential awaits the right line mates. I don't necessarily subscribe to this but there may be some GM's who think they have the right center for him.

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This is a load of crap, the bottom line is Kane is at another level than these guys period. It was a weak draft otherwise JVR would not have been the 2nd overall pick..

that's it, exactly. kane was a for-real 1st overall pick, while JVR was a 10th pick, except the draft class was thin enough that there wasn't anyone to fill the 2-9 spots, so...defacto 2nd pick. even on draft day, no one put JVR anywhere near kane's class.

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If JvR plays really well down the stretch & through the playoffs, he will almost certainly stay put.

well, sure, i don't think anyone would argue that. the next step will be for him to play well down the stretch and through the playoffs.

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well, sure, i don't think anyone would argue that. the next step will be for him to play well down the stretch and through the playoffs.

A

And if he doesn't, maybe Homer moves him while his value around the league is still high.

Either way, I think we'll come out ahead.

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Either way, I think we'll come out ahead.

agreed completely. the one mistake is holding onto him if he stays flat. he does still carry value based on draft position, but that will only last so long.

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that's it, exactly. kane was a for-real 1st overall pick, while JVR was a 10th pick, except the draft class was thin enough that there wasn't anyone to fill the 2-9 spots, so...defacto 2nd pick. even on draft day, no one put JVR anywhere near kane's class.

if that's the case then why didn't Homer trade down and acquire more picks if the draft pool was weak?

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arguably they should have. but they didn't. what does that prove?

look at that draft class. after Kane, there was a lot of Kyle turris, Thomas hickey, Zach hamill and Lars eller. only ten guys or so from that first round have had nhl careers so far.. and only three or four of any real impact. it was a weirdly thin first round.

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agreed completely. the one mistake is holding onto him if he stays flat. he does still carry value based on draft position, but that will only last so long.

But the travesty is how far JVR sank since been drafted compared to those who were taken later in that draft. The mere fact that there is even a contemplation or a mere conjecture of him being possibly traded this summer is enough proof of how much he disappointed. I bet you neither Dallas nor San Jose are even thinking about trading Benn or Couture. Both - along with Kane, obvioulsy - became basically centerprieces of each of their respective team. And with Couture it's especially admirable given the Sharks' depth and who he had to compete with for the ice time.

JVR has been given plenty of opportunities to shine and he didn't. I really feel the next season (if the Flyers hold on to him, that is), will define not only his destiny with the Flyers, but perhaps his entire career. I'll chalk this season up to injuries, but let's see what he does moving forward.

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