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Nash deal unlikely, should Sharks turn to JVR?

Guest Irishjim

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PITTSBURGH – As the chances become slimmer and slimmer that the Sharks will make a major deal for Columbus’ Rick Nash, the club may have to consider to other options to improve its scoring depth on the wings.

Columbus continues to insist that Logan Couture be the centerpiece of a deal for its captain, and Couture is, rightfully, a non-starter with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson.

One intriguing name that may make sense for San Jose is current Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk, whom the Sharks reportedly targeted back at the trade deadline, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

It’s been an uneven career for the former second overall pick of 2007, who, when he was drafted by Philly, was immediately compared to Nash for his size and scoring touch. He's shown flashes of brilliance, but van Riemsdyk hasn't been able to sustain a consistent level of production in his first three seasons as a pro.

In fact, it’s been rumored that van Riemsdyk would be part of a deal for Nash should the Flyers make an offer to the Blue Jackets. Should Nash end up elsewhere, though, van Riemsdyk could be available for the right offer. And if that’s the case, it’s worth it for the Sharks to investigate.

Last season, van Riemsdyk totaled 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points and 24 penalty minutes in 43 games. He suffered a number of injuries along the way, including a concussion and broken bone in his foot, and he still has a nagging hip problem (the Flyers originally said he needed surgery after the season, but then somewhat strangely decided he didn’t).

In three seasons with the Flyers, the 23-year-old has 99 points (47g, 52a) in 196 career regular season games, and 11 goals and four assists in 39 playoff games.

The 6-3, 200-pound van Riemsdyk’s 2011 playoff run was probably the highlight of his young career, and he was particularly strong in a second round series against Boston even though the Flyers were swept. In Game 2 of that series, van Riemsdyk scored twice and could have had many more, and was easily the Flyers’ best player on the ice in what was a 3-2 Bruins win in overtime.

Philadelphia awarded him with a six-year, $25.5 million contract last summer that is set to kick in on July 1, for an average cap hit of $4.25 million a year.

A little high? Maybe. And is van Riemsdyk as good a player as Nash? Of course not. But he’s still a young talent with the potential to be a consistent 25 or 30 goal scorer for the next several years, at comes with a price tag much lower than Nash’s $7.8 million for the next six. It also leaves the Sharks with more wiggle room in terms of salary to go after another depth forward for their bottom two lines.

The Flyers need defense. Chris Pronger’s career is probably over, Kimmo Timonen is 38 years old and has just a year left on his contract, while Matt Carle is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Prized unrestricted free-agent-to-be Ryan Suter reportedly wants to stay in the Western Conference, and doesn't appear to be an option for Philly, either.

They could also use some more goaltending depth, in case Ilya Bryzgalov’s struggles in his first year with the Flyers continue into his second. Behind Bryzgalov is the unproven Sergei Bobrovsky, who wasn’t all that much better than Bryzgalov was last season.

The Sharks have assets at both positions. Doug Wilson on Monday praised the organization’s defensive depth, and with the addition of Brad Stuart, San Jose could afford to part ways with Douglas Murray or Jason Demers if it brings them back some offense in return. Between the pipes, Alex Stalock, Thomas Greiss and Tyson Sexsmith are all still young and seemingly improving goaltenders. Stalock appears to be the player with the most upside, and would give Philadelphia a blue chip prospect in net – something it doesn’t have at the moment (and hasn't had in decades, really).

Not to mention, it was reported in February that the Sharks offered Antti Niemi for van Riemsdyk, which was turned down by Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

The Sharks are bound to do something before the weekend is through, as the draft provides the best chance to try and make over a team’s roster. It’s not as sexy a name as Rick Nash, but making a play for van Riemsdyk could be in the cards.

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