No shortage of talent on Flyers second line
As of July 1st, 2018, James van Riemsdyk is back in Philadelphia. He will fill a spot on the Flyers second line, joining center Nolan Patrick and right-winger Jakub Voracek. All three top-ten draft picks have a ton of talent, and potential to complement each other.
It’s my honest belief that this line can compete with some of the best lines in the NHL. There are so many factors into why this line will succeed. But what are those reasons, exactly?
In the NHL, size matters
Don’t get me wrong, some of the best players in the game are considered “undersized”. But having a big frame in the NHL is certainly a major advantage. And all three players on the Flyers second line are big guys. Patrick is currently the smallest, standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing in around 200 lbs. However, at only age 19, the Winnipeg-native could still be growing and most certainly will be adding muscle.
Voracek is also 6-foot-2 but has 15 lbs on Patrick, and that weight helps him win battles along the boards. Getting the puck off of Voracek’s stick is not easy, as he uses that weight to his advantage. van Riemsdyk is the heftiest of the group, coming in at 6-foot-3 and 217 lbs.
Voracek is so strong with the puck 😱 pic.twitter.com/ug6TH0ux0t
— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 10, 2016
The thing about being big is that you have to be able to keep up. And for all three of these players, speed is no downside. Patrick has been lauded for his skating abilities for a player of his size. Voracek has an explosive ability on his feet, being able to get around opponents in just his first few strides. That is not something you see with many 215 lb players.
Look at Jake Voracek’s speed to create a chance and draw a penalty. pic.twitter.com/U5XRy6BOGD
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) September 21, 2017
Getting the puck to the net
The Flyers second line will see no shortage in goals. In the 2017-18 season, these three players combined for 69 goals and 100 assists. Granted, van Riemsdyk was playing in Toronto, but his new linemates in Philadelphia are better than Tyler Bozak and Connor Brown, with all due respect.
Last season, Voracek and Patrick found a chemistry during the second half of the season that was unmatched. Once Patrick became more comfortable on the ice, he seemed to be unstoppable. They both seem to see whats going to happen on the ice before it does, and can capitalize on defensive breakdowns.
This pass from Nolan Patrick is sensational! pic.twitter.com/PSEmvHBPER
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 18, 2017
Once van Riemsdyk can work his way into that chemistry, defenses are going to have a hard time against this line. The New Jersey-native averaged .67 points per game over the course of the whole 2017-18 regular season and will now have Voracek dishing him the puck on a nightly basis.
Creating opportunities between the circles
If there is one thing van Riemsdyk is known for around the league, it’s his net-front presence. The 2007 2nd overall draft pick has an incredible ability to get the puck on his stick right within the crease and find a way to get it behind the goalie.
James van Riemsdyk buries the rebound on the doorstep. pic.twitter.com/x8L6wBQkcr
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 14, 2018
Flyers sophomore Patrick played a similar role last season. He also uses his size and physicality to battle for the pucks in front of the net and manages to make strong plays. He has a veterans hockey awareness after just one season in the NHL. This clip, one of my favorite highlights of the 2017-18 season, gives us a glimpse.
that no-look, between the legs pass by Nolan Patrick 👀 👀 👀 pic.twitter.com/l3IRCNYamM
People really don’t understand what the JVR-Patrick-Jake line is capable of.
That is size, speed, awareness, physicality, playmaking, deadly shots.
That is one scary ass line.
— Anthony DiGrazio 🏒 (@AnthonyDiGrazio) July 28, 2018
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) March 9, 2018
Voracek is one of the best passers in the league, which shows in his assists column each season. When combined with a deadly shot from van Riemsdyk and insurmountable hockey IQ from Patrick, this line has just about everything.
However, they need to find a way to put it all together. Seeing them gain chemistry during camp is something we should all look forward to. And when October comes, look to see this line make a major difference for the Flyers this season.