Flyers earn A-minus for James van Riemsdyk deal

Veteran winger James van Riemsdyk is poised to sign a five-year, $35 million deal with the Flyers, who drafted him second overall in 2007. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The player: James van Riemsdyk, 29, left winger

The terms: five years, $7 million annually from the Philadelphia Flyers

Where does he fit in?

JVR fits in Philadelphia because he's done this before. The Flyers drafted him second overall in 2007, and he spent the first 196 games of his career in orange and black, scoring 47 goals and adding 52 assists. In June 2012, he was shipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Luke Schenn in one of the worst trades in the history of the Flyers' franchise. (It was ranked No. 8 here.)

During his 413 games with the Leafs from 2012 to '18, he established himself as a forward who could play with top-six talent and as a net-front presence on the power play, scoring 11 goals last season with the man advantage.

The Flyers entered free agency looking like they weren't going to make a major splash, despite desperately needing a winger for their second line to play with sophomore Nolan Patrick. Well, they made a big splash and landed one of the top left wingers on the UFA market for a reunion that, frankly, many Flyers fans didn't see coming.

Van Riemsdyk slides into his new role with ease, and gives the Flyers another weapon on an already potent power play. And best of all, he's a known quantity who has played with Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds.

Does this deal make sense?

Remember how there were nine years between "Rocky Balboa" and "Creed?" Yeah, it's like that: A Philadelphia favorite re-emerges to help establish a young star. That's what JVR could do for Nolan Patrick.

As for the contract, kudos to whatever voodoo GM Ron Hextall used to get this deal capped at five years, lest a 34-year-old JVR would make $7 million for the Flyers. Five years, even at this AAV, is just a perfect scope of contract length. It gives them a good player now; it gives them some cost certainty (copyright, Gary Bettman) for when Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov and Patrick will need their big contracts.

The main question surrounding this deal is what happens with Simmonds. The 29-year-old winger makes $3.975 million against the cap this season and then goes unrestricted next summer. He has a limited no-trade clause, and the chatter was that he was on the block. Does JVR's return hasten that move, or is Simmonds solidly on the Flyers next season?

Overall grade: A-minus

Since 2014, van Riemsdyk has a better points-per-game average (0.71 to 0.62) and goals-per-game average (0.37 to 0.35) than Evander Kane, having played 35 more games. Kane, turning 27 in August, was handed a seven-year deal worth $7 million annually from the San Jose Sharks, setting the market. The Flyers matched that offer in AAV -- and for two fewer years -- for a player who is just as good, and a much safer play.

Look, $7 million might look differently depending on JVR's output over the next five years, let alone the success of the club. But at first glance, it's good work here by Hextall & Co.