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?

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