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Friedman: “It wouldn’t surprise me if Calgary was looking at James van Riemsdyk”

We are a little over four weeks away from the March 3rd NHL trade deadline. The rumors are gradually picking up steam. We saw some action earlier this week when the Vancouver Canucks sent Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders for winger Anthony Beauvillier, potential Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick. The action will only be taken up in the course of the weeks.

The Flames committed to trying to fight when they took over Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar and signed Nazem Kadri in free agency this summer. While they’re currently in ninth place in the Western Conference, they’ll have to buy almost to deadline to try to make it. If they miss, it’ll put another wrinkle in the future of Flames general manager Brad Treliving, who is unsigned beyond the 2022-23 season. If he wants to stay as Flames GM beyond this year, getting to the playoffs would help him.

So we’re going to focus on some additions that the Flames could make. We start with a Philadelphia winger that Sportsnet’s NHL insider Elliotte Friedman linked to the Flames on The Jeff Marek Show yesterday.

Elliotte Friedman links the Flames to James van Riemsdyk

Elliotte Friedman dropped a nugget on The Jeff Mark Show talking about James van Riemsdyk: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Calgary watched van Riemsdyk. I think Philly comes with him on the short shots and I think Calgary might be one of those teams.

Friedman also noted that “a player like van Riemsdyk is the type of player that Calgary will add”.

The last time I wrote an article about someone connected to the Flames through Friedman, it was Sonny Milano last summer. Of course, that came true when the Flames signed Milano for a training camp with a PTO.

van Riemsdyk has had a decent 2022-23 season with the Philadelphia Flyers, scoring eight goals and 21 points in 31 games. Injuries have always been a problem for the 33-year-old veteran winger but when healthy and consistent he can hit a pace of around 30 goals and 50 points in a full season. In his 910-game career, van Riemsdyk has scored 296 goals and 583 points. That gives van Riemsdyk a pace of 0.64 p/gp over the course of his career.

The 6’3″, 217 lbs winger is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season and has a $7 million cap hit. However, he’s only owed $4 million in salary for the 2022-23 season after being paid a $1 million signing bonus per CapFriendly.com over the summer. Speaking of $7 million cap hits this season, Nazem Kadri has spent a lot of time with JVR as the two played together with the Toronto Maple Leafs from the 2012-13 season through the 2017-18 season.

van Riemsdyk fits the Flames checklist

Why are the Flames interested in van Riemsdyk? Well he ticks a lot of boxes what they are looking for.

We can guess. First, the team is looking for a goalscorer. The Flames need goals. Treliving has said in the media that this team needs a goalscorer since the summer and that hasn’t changed. Second, the team will look at the rental market as the 2023/24 season sees renewals for Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and Dan Vladar. Third, Calgary is always looking for versatile players. A good example of this is the acquisition of Tyler Toffoli and Calle Jarnkrok before last year’s trading deadline. Both players must be able to play multiple forward positions.

This compiles a checklist with the following points:

  • UFA end of 2022-23
  • Winger with the ability to score goals
  • Versatile player who can play multiple positions
  • Right shot is a plus

Well, van Riemsdyk easily ticks the first three boxes. He’s UFA late 2022/23, can play on both left and right wing and has made a career of getting the puck to the back of the net. He’s a great netfront guy with predictive microstats, both of which would fit perfectly into the Flames system. He’s not the fastest, which the Flames lack, but he covers the areas on the checklist we’ve outlined.

van Riemsdyk was as consistent a shooter as one can find. His shooting percentage over the past four seasons? 12.6%, 12.9%, 12.9% and 12.7%. You know exactly what you get at van Riemsdyk. Among the Flames’ regulars this season, only Brett Ritchie, Dillon Dube, Elias Lindholm and Huberdeau have shot more than van Riemsdyk.

Dive deeper into van Riemsdyk’s game

What makes van Riemsdyk effective? Well if we look at the isolated 5v5 impact courtesy of HockeyViz.com we can see that JVR generated a lot of excess shots from the net front. In the chart below, we can see that there’s a ton of Dark Red near the front of the web throughout his career. That’s exactly what the Flames need. His defensive play is certainly not outstanding, but it has improved in recent years. van Riemsdyk struggled defensively in his first six seasons, but he’s generally had a positive trend since then.

If we look at the graphs below, also courtesy of HockeyViz.com, we can see that the Flames at 5v5 are generating excessive shots from almost every area of ​​the ice except one – the front of the net. This has become a big problem and we can see this not only on 5v5 but also on power play. The PP Offensive shows an interesting story with lots of shot generation from left/center, but the right touchline is struggling, especially from the net front. The Flames definitely miss Matthew Tkachuk and his close game. Getting a big-bodied player like JVR, who has made his career going to the top of the net and causing mayhem, is exactly what the Flames need.

Now if we take a look at the charts below, again courtesy of HockeyViz.com, we can see the impact van Riemsdyk is having on the Flyers. When JVR is on the ice, the Flyers are a better team on both offense and defense. You’ll find that without JVR, the Flyers produce little shots from mid-ice and on the net front. That changes when JVR is on the ice, as the Flyers receive excessive shot generation near the net front, particularly on the left side of the net.

Should the Flames trade for JVR?

In short, James van Riemsdyk pretty much checks every box for the player the Flames want to win. He is 33 years old and has a history of injuries. But he has had a successful career as a prolific winger with an advantage at the top of the net. You can place JVR on either powerplay unit on the net front and that’s a significant upgrade over what the Flames currently have.

Due to the abundance of winger talent available as of this year’s deadline and the lack of cap space in the league, few teams have the opportunity to trade for JVR’s full cap hit of $7 million, even if the Flyers are 50 % keep. That means the Flames are in a good position to get van Riemsdyk at a price that’s likely to be lower than expected.

My proposed deal would be that James van Riemsdyk and Justin Braun (article on him coming soon) go to the Flames in exchange for Kevin Rooney and a second-round pick in 2024.

The Flames would acquire two UFAs: a goalscorer winger and a right-footed defender. They’re giving up Rooney and his cap for next year while sending the Flyers a high draft pick in 2024.

We’ve got tons of Deadline coverage next month, so stay tuned!

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