What James Van Riemsdyk's Absence Means to the Philadelphia Flyers

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 01: James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the New Jersey Devils in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on May 1, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Devils defeated the Flyers 4-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers appear to be an easy read.

When you look at the personnel on the team, they should be a team that can put the puck in the net but will likely have problems keeping opponents from doing the same thing.

Since they felt offense would be a strength for this team whenever the 2012-13 starts—and it's all but certain that you can cross off the "2012" portion of the schedule—they traded left wing James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Luke Schenn.

Van Riemsdyk, 23, is expected to take on the role of one of the key scorers and become a valuable offensive player for the Maple Leafs. He will likely play on the second line in Toronto.

Schenn will probably find himself as one of head coach Peter Laviolette's top-four defensemen. He should be a physical defenseman who can also move the puck. Whether he can cut down on his mistakes is another issue, but he gives them a young defenseman who should get better.

They appear to have given up quite a bit in van Riemsdyk. Not in terms of consistency at this point in his career, but in someone who has the potential to develop into a big-time scorer and a potential All-Star.

Van Riemsdyk was the second overall draft pick in 2007 and while he never quite put it altogether for the Flyers, it does not mean that all of his talent and ability suddenly drained out of his body.

It's not like van Riemsdyk played poorly with the Flyers. He showed flashes during his three years on Broad Street and there were times when he made a huge impact for the team.

Go back to the 2009-10 playoffs, when the Flyers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. The most memorable part of that run was their shocking comeback from an 0-3 deficit against the Boston Bruins in the second round and then another comeback from a 0-3 margin in the seventh game of that series.

Van Riemsdyk scored the Flyers' first goal in that seventh game and that triggered their comeback. They ended up winning that game 4-3 and moving on to the Eastern Conference finals where they whipped the Montreal Canadiens. They were ultimately stopped in the Stanley Cup Finals by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Van Riemsdyk followed up that postseason (three goals and three assists) showing by scoring 21 goals and 19 assists in 2010-11, his second full season in the NHL. He scored seven goals in 11 games in the 2011 playoffs.

Van Riemsdyk seemed to serve notice that he was ready to become a star in the NHL, but his 2011-12 season was damaged by injuries. He played just 43 games and was held to 24 points.

The Flyers were disappointed and did not hesitate to move him.

However, that move could end up backfiring. He is a 6'3", 200-pound skater who knows how to position himself in front of the net, and he also has the skills to become a significant scorer.

The Flyers appear to have enough scoring to survive the upcoming season without him, but if Philadelphia gets hit with injuries they may regret letting him go.

As for the long-term future, the Maple Leafs believe that van Riemsdyk can be a lot more than a functional player. They believe he can become a star.

If that happens, trading van Riemsdyk could have negative implications in Philadelphia for years to come.