The Philadelphia Flyers announced that they have signed 6’3”, 205-pound left wing James van Riemsdyk to a multiyear entry-level contract beginning with the 2009-10 season, according to club General Manager Paul Holmgren. Van Riemsdyk has also signed an amateur tryout for the remainder of the current season and has been assigned to the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms. He will be available to play in tonight’s Phantoms-Albany River Rats game at the Wachovia Spectrum ( Tickets).
“We are pleased to have James in the fold and look forward to monitoring his development more closely,” said Holmgren in making the announcement. “It was a difficult decision for James to leave school, but we both believed that it was in his best interest to do so. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the University of New Hampshire, and in particular, Coach Dick Umile and his staff for not only their understanding but their dedicated work with James over the last two seasons.”
"Obviously, this is a thrill of a lifetime,” said van Riemsdyk. “This is a day I have been dreaming about ever since I got drafted by the Flyers. Just to have this opportunity is something I am really grateful for.
"I thought the sooner I made this decision the better it would be for all parties involved. Since I've decided to leave school, I've told the UNH coaching staff and everyone else early on so they will have more time to fill my spot there. I just thought signing at this point would help me get my feet wet a little bit in the professional game and start working on some things that I want to improve upon. Obviously, this is a huge jump in level of play. I know I am going to have to work hard and basically that is what I am expecting. I am going to work hard and learn a lot from this experience."
Van Riemsdyk, 19, recently completed his sophomore season at the University of New Hampshire, where he recorded 17 goals and 23 assists for 40 points in 36 games. He led the Wildcats in scoring and finished eighth overall in the Hockey East Conference (NCAA). He was tied for seventh in goals and assists, and finished first in shorthanded goals (4). He was honored as an All-Hockey East Second Team selection at the conclusion of the regular season.
Also this year, van Riemsdyk represented the United States for the third time in his career at the 2009 World Junior Championship tournament in Ottawa, Ontario, where he recorded four goals and six assists for 10 points as Team USA finished in fifth place.
In 2007-08 as a freshman at UNH, van Riemsdyk recorded 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 31 games, finishing third on the team in scoring and tied for 13th in Hockey East. He was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team and was fourth in the nation in scoring by a rookie. In the 2008 World Junior Championship tournament in the Czech Republic, van Riemsdyk led the tournament in scoring with five goals and six assists for 11 points as the United States lost the Bronze Medal game to Russia.
Prior to joining the University of New Hampshire, van Riemsdyk played for the United States Under-18 Development Program in 2006-07, where he recorded 33 goals and 30 assists for 63 points and 81 penalty minutes in 42 games. He led the team in goals (33), points (63), penalty minutes (81), power play goals (11), game-winning goals (6), and was second on the team in assists. He was a member of Bronze Medal-winning Team USA at the 2007 World Junior Championship tournament in Sweden, scoring a goal in seven games, and played for the U.S. Under-17 NTDP during the 2005-06 season, recording 42 points (26G,16A) in 55 games. He won a Gold Medal with Team USA at the Under-18 World Championships, and helped Team USA to a Silver Medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where he posted nine points (5G,4A) in seven games and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
A native of Middletown, New Jersey, van Riemsdyk was originally drafted in the first round (second overall) by the Flyers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)