VOORHEES, N.J. – James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes have both been through changes of addresses in their careers, so the two veteran forwards know anything is possible as the Flyers approach Friday’s NHL trade deadline.
There is a difference in terms of contract status: Van Riemsdyk’s is expiring while Hayes still has three years to go on his.
So JVR is more likely to be moved to a contending team. Hayes has a 12-team no-trade clause, thus the odds of him changing jerseys are a bit less.
Both players were on the ice Tuesday at the Flyers Training Center and took part in an optional “skills” practice, a workout attended by just 14 players, partly necessitated because head coach John Tortorella took care of a personal matter.
Van Riemsdyk, 33, sounds pretty much resigned to the fact he won’t be a Flyer much longer.
“It’s always a time of year of uncertainty when you’re in the last year of your contract,” said van Riemsdyk, who is finishing up a five-year, $35-million deal he signed on July 1, 2018. “Just the business side of the game. You just take it one day at a time.”
Drafted second overall in 2007, van Riemsdyk spent several years here in his first tour of duty in Philadelphia, got traded to Toronto for a six-year stint and then re-signed with the Flyers as a free agent.
The Middletown, N.J. native says he’s enjoyed his career as a Flyer and sounded as if he would like it to at least continue to the end of this season.
He drew laughter with his response to how closely he follows the rumor mill.
“You realize things could be happening so it’s harder to fully block it out,” he said. “I actually keep my phone on ‘airplane mode’ for most of the time. You’ll have to send a smoke signal or something (to reach him).
“I keep an eye on it (trade wire) more than usual. When I’m home I try to unplug and spend some family time. But certainly now I have to be a little more accessible.”
If he were to go to a contender, it would probably re-energize his career.
“Definitely,” he said. “I think that’s why we all play, to get a chance to win, be in that environment. Playoff hockey is the most exciting brand to play. Watching it at home on TV stinks. You want to be there, you want to be playing in it. You really have to cherish every chance you get at that. That’s something that would certainly be exciting.”
Looking back, JVR has fond memories of his time here.
“I’ve played here for a lot of years,” he said. “There have been a lot of special moments, memories over those years. But I’m just trying to stay in the moment.”
As for the 30-year-old Hayes, there was a bit of a public perception that he wasn’t getting along with coach John Tortorella after the player was moved from center to wing and demoted to a lower line.
Hayes, who signed a 7-year, $50-million free-agent contract in 2019) countered that belief by saying all is well in the relationship between the two. So if a trade is made, it won’t be because the two aren’t getting along.
“I’ve been in this position before (he was traded from the New York Rangers to the Winnipeg Jets in 2019),’’ Hayes said. “It’s not my decision whether I get traded or not. I love it here, I love my teammates, I love the city, the fans. . .the organization is great.
“But that (a trade) is more for coaches and management to choose and pick who they want here.”
Hayes understands the Flyers are trying to get younger so the probability of bringing in prospects and draft picks is high. But every team has to have a few older players to help young players develop. Hayes sees himself in that role now.
“You can argue both sides,” the Massachusetts native said. “Personally I want NHL players (to be brought in) because I have three years left. You can get draft picks and find someone who is unbelievable and can help the organization. Or you get draft picks that don’t even make it to the NHL.”
Hayes said he isn’t “too concerned” about moving to a new team.
“They invested me a few years ago and I’ve tried to invest in the city,” he said. “I don’t think about it too much honestly.”
The team’s second-leading scorer and top assist man expresses optimism about the Flyers’ future.
“It’s tough to stay positive sometimes,” he said. “But you see these young pieces and the culture you’re trying to build. I think we went from a team which had no respect from the league to a team which has gained respect from opponents because of how hard we work.”
GM Chuck Fletcher wouldn’t rule out the possiblity of trading Hayes.
“Potentially,” Fletcher said. “Again, it will depend on market, opportunity and fit. Again, we’ve expressed to teams that we’re open to ideas, lots of different types of scenarios. Without addressing Kevin specifically, clearly we would like to get even younger if we can.”