The JVR Conundrum

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I don’t want Rick Nash.

I don’t want his $7.8 million cap hit. I don’t want his $7.6 million dollar salary.

I don’t want Rick Nash.

I’m not sure I want James van Riemsdyk anymore, either. Whether Howard Eskin’s report of JVR delaying his torn hip labrum surgery in an effort to not get traded is true or not, JVR needs to speak up.

If Eskin’s report is true, I am not upset with JVR. In all honesty, I actually like him a little bit better. The fact that he would delay surgery because he loves Philadelphia so much is pretty cool. But, the fact that JVR is putting his health – and the start of next season – in jeopardy is more important.

USA Today reported that the New Jersey native is not delaying surgery, but rather that he cannot have surgery until an infection in his foot has healed. Furthermore, the article stated that van Riemsdyk is aware of Eskin’s report, but that he “didn’t want to start a ‘war of words.’”

By now we know that van Riemsdyk’s extension kicks in this year. So what does that mean? It means that JVR now has a $4.25 million cap hit. Does he deserve to count so much against the cap (and make more money than Claude Giroux)? At this point? No. But maybe he will in the future.

Trading JVR (and pieces) to Columbus for the high-scoring Nash does not help the Flyers with their most immediate problem: defense. If the soon-to-be-fourth-year winger is to be traded, there is only one place I would ship him, and that is to Nashville. There is one impact player on the market who can transform this Flyers team. And no, his name is not Ryan Suter.

Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Shea Weber, the closest thing the NHL has to Chris Pronger. Nash may be in the prime of his career and a repeat All-Star, but what more can he bring to a team that ranked third in the NHL in goals last season? We’ve all seen the decline of the Flyers defense since Pronger was lost for the season in a bizarre chain of events beginning with that awful stick to the face in late October.

Weber would change that, and including van Riemsdyk in a trade package would be a step in the right direction to acquire him.

Now, my Weber acquisition scenario may not be likely, I know this. But it wouldn’t hurt GM Paul Holmgren to give it a shot. If a Weber trade is not feasible, then I would not move JVR. I will continue to be in the minority that feels that JVR can still reach star potential.

Right now, van Riemsdyk appears to be one of the most perplexing athletes in Philadelphia. He is standing at a crossroads in his young NHL career. He can man up and become the player the Flyers thought he would become after signing him to an expensive extension following his breakout in the 2011 postseason, or he can go the road most often traveled: another top draft pick failing to live up to the billing.
Here’s hoping that, with a little more luck than the hockey gods provided and some hard work next year, JVR takes the road less traveled and makes the Flyers look like geniuses.