Philadelphia Flyers: JVR injury adds ill-timed wrinkle to young season

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Flyers will be without their big free agent signing in James van Riemsdyk for 5-6 weeks while he heals from a knee injury.

On Saturday night in Denver, while playing against the Colorado Avalanche as part of their Western Conference road trip, the Philadelphia Flyers were bitten by the injury bug before the first period even came to a close.

James van Riemsdyk, the club’s biggest free agent acquisition, was hit by a clearing attempt on the inside of his left knee and did not return to the game. Whenever a player is hit with an injury during a game and doesn’t at least return to the bench, you can typically surmise two things: either the injury is not major and the training staff is just being cautious, or the injury requires further diagnosis, typically indicating the potential for a longer-term issue.

More from Philadelphia Flyers

Monday afternoon, reports confirmed that JVR had indeed sustained an injury that would not allow him to immediately return to play. The big winger will miss 5-6 weeks, putting him on track to return to the ice mid to late November. It was unclear what the specifics of the injury were, and it’s unlikely that the Flyers will release that information.

MCL injuries can typically fall under the 4-6 week time frame, as can higher grade bone bruises. The good news is that the injury does not appear to require a surgical procedure, as these typically can lead to longer recovery times.

Despite that good news, this is a damaging blow to the Flyers early on the season. The van Riemsdyk signing was a very good one for the Flyers, as it gave them another big scoring winger that can add to the Flyers already impressive depth in their top six. The fact that JVR was slotted into the third line meant that the Flyers could now roll out three competitive scoring lines; a top nine that would be difficult for opposing teams to match up against.

The Flyers will now have to wait for van Riemsdyk to heal, and in his absence, someone else will need to step in. That player is most likely Jordan Weal, as he was involved heavily in the battle for the third center spot during preseason, only to be outdone by a fantastic showing from Mikhail Vorobyev.

This will require some shuffling around, particularly on the power play, but the good news is that Weal should just be able to slide right in on the third line with Vorobyev and Wayne Simmonds. Sam Carchidi of reported that JVR’s spot on the second unit power play would be filled by Oskar Lindblom if lines from practice today carry over into Tuesday’s game.

It’s also worth noting that head coach Dave Hakstol shuffled his forward groupings a bit, breaking up his first line of Giroux-Couturier-Konecny and opting to go with Jakub Voracek on the right-wing. The second line of Lindblom-Patrick-Voracek hasn’t quite yet clicked through two games, and so the coach is likely just adjusting the lines in the wake of the injury to van Riemsdyk. It appears that Travis Konecny will slot in at second line right-wing.

If the lines from practice carry over into the home opener, the forward groupings will look as follows:

  1. Giroux-Couturier-Voracek
  2. Lindblom-Patrick-Konecny
  3. Weal-Vorobyev-Simmonds
  4. Laughton-Lehtera-Raffl

The injury to JVR is certainly not ideal, however, Weal has shown that he can play a top-nine role if given ample opportunity. He’s not a scoring winger at the level of van Riemsdyk, but he can play a defensively sound game and create offense with his speed. He doesn’t have to be flashy, just not reckless.

Where the Flyers are going to miss JVR is on the second unit power play where the Flyers were hoping to get an additional net-front presence. Lindblom has had a decent start to the season, so he’ll now get a chance to prove he can help the team there.

Next. Philadelphia Flyers drop to 1-1 thanks to Hakstol roster gaff. dark

Injuries happen in the NHL quite frequently, so the Philadelphia Flyers will need to shrug off the bad news and get back to work after a bad loss in Colorado Saturday night. They’ll open up at home on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks with their new-look lineup.