JVR On The Rise
You can see pretty clearly now why the Maple Leafs were hunting James Van Riemsdyk.
Van Riemsdyk, or JVR as they were chanting his name Monday night, was the young player Brian Burke really wanted in exchange for Kris Versteeg when the two teams were talking trade this winter. Van Riemsdyk, 21, had 15 goals last year and while showing flashes this season, wasn't consistently giving the Flyers the kind of performance a team looking to try and win a Stanley Cup needed.
Burke pushed and pushed, but Flyers GM Paul Holmgren wouldn't relent, an eventually the trade was made in mid-February, Versteeg to Philly for a first round pick and a third rounder.
"Our ideal would have been to get a player who could play right now," said Burke at the time, without mentioning Van Riemsdyk by name.
Van Riemsdyk finished the season with 21 goals, but it was Monday in Game 2 against Boston he really flashed his potential in a dominant performance, albeit one in a losing cause. The lanky forward scored twice in the first period and had eight shots in all, at times nearly unstoppable except for Tim Thomas, who was stopping pretty much everything in a glittering 52-save performance.
Van Riemsdyk went second overall in the '07 draft behind Patrick Kane, and until this season it seemed like it might be one of the weaker drafts in years. But Logan Couture (9th overall) had a breakout season in San Jose, Karl Alzner (5th) has become a regular on the Washington blueline and other first round defencemen like Kevin Shattenkirk, Jonathan Blum and Ryan McDonagh have become solid NHLers.
Van Riemsdyk, meanwhile, was teasing the Flyers, but not blowing away anybody. At least not until Monday night when he looked like power forward with wheels, finally harnessing his potential. We'll see now if he can produce more of the same as the Flyers try once more to come-from-behind on Boston.
But it sure looks like Holmgren was bang-on in assessing the young forward's value when the Leafs came knocking.