Flyers Lock up van Riemsdyk with Six Year Extension

By David Strehle
NHL H
ot Stove Creative Editor

With many clubs around the NHL experiencing their share of difficulties inking their restricted free agents to new deals, Philadelphia Flyers’ GM Paul Holmgren avoided any potential stand-off with James van Riemsdyk next summer by signing the 22-year-old winger to a 6-year, $25.5 million contract extension.

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

The New Jersey-native’s 3-year entry-level contract has just one year left at a cap hit of $1,6654,166 annually, with the new deal carrying a $4.25 million hit beginning in the 20012-13 season.

The 6′ 3″, 200-pounder overcame a slow start last year to record career-highs in both goals (21) and points (40), with the most exciting production coming down the stretch and playoffs.  Van Riemsdyk scored five goals in his last nine regular season contests to top the 20-goal mark (ending with 21), then put on a dominating display with seven tallies in just 11 postseason games.

It was evident that the performances of both van Riemsdyk and center Claude Giroux in the postseason made it much easier for Holmgren to make a tough decision and move forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter this past June.

With the loss of offensive production from Richards and Carter (59 combined goals last year), as well as Ville Leino and Nikolay Zherdev (another 35 combined goals), there is no doubt that van Riemsdyk will be counted on to pick up where he left off in May and continue with the hot goal-scoring hand.

Very adept at social networking, van Riemsdyk announced the deal via Twitter earlier today, mentioning how much he loves playing in Philadelphia.  He also thanked Ed Snider and the organization for showing confidence in him.

Here is the transcript of the conference call held with van Riemsdyk earlier today:

On signing his extension:

I couldn’t be happier, obviously.  Over the two years I’ve been here, and even prior to that when I was with the organization,  I’ve seen how well they treat their players and how highly everyone around it talks about it.  Even before I signed, Jim Dowd was actually telling me how lucky I was to be coming to the Flyers and how well they treat their players, and I’ve seen that first-hand.  When these talks of an extension started to come up, that was in the back of my mind, and I knew this was the place I really wanted to be.”

Q: Do you feel like this forces you into a primary role with the team?

I think I was already kind of handed those responsibilities.  I don’t really think contracts come into play when it comes to taking more responsibility.  [Contract or not], I was ready for that opportunity and challenge coming into this season, so now it’s just up to me to go out there and play and do the things I like to do out there.”

Q: How long has this been discussed?

I think between my agent and [Paul Holmgren] for a few months, and I think they started really getting down to numbers and stuff over the last couple of weeks.  It kind of went from there.  But I think they talked about it a little bit, nothing too formal, but then the formal talks kind of got underway a week or two ago.”

Q: On the importance of team’s long-term success

That’s something I’ve always been all about.  I went through that, talking about that with my agent.  Obviously you want to make a good living doing what you love to do but at the same time you want to be in a great place like Philadelphia, that wants you to be here, and not only that but be a part of a great team.  Obviously with the salary cap, there are some constraints on what teams can do.  I think it’s a very fair deal for both sides and I’m happy to be committed here for the next six years.”

On the offseason and how the team looks now:

It’s a much different feel and a lot of new faces compared to the end against Boston there.  But at the same time, stuff like that happens in the salary cap world, and there are important decisions to be made, and there were some shakeups.   While you don’t expect to see two guys like that go, that stuff happens.  It’s part of the business and that sort of thing.  So while they were great teammates and great guys, it’s going to be up to us to move on and fill their shoes, so to speak.” 

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If you have any comments or questions, you can email the author at dstrehle@nhlhotstove.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter – @David_Strehle