JVR 2.0 launches in Vegas on Thursday night. The new edition is vastly better than the original.

But then, developers have been working on it for six years, and they outsourced the labor to Ontario. James van Riemsdyk wouldn't be the same player if the work had been done in the U.S. of A.

"That's impossible to say," van Riemsdyk said.

No, it's not. The first edition of JVR was clunky and flawed, burdened by the weight of expectation and comparison. Six years in Toronto has produced a fearsome left wing worth every looney of the 5-year, $35 million free-agent contract he signed in July. He re-debuts against the Golden Knights.

Everyone, including the principal, will tell you Toronto's rebuild gave van Riemsdyk room to grow.

"When I went to Toronto, there was seemingly more opportunity available because the team was in a different spot than the team was here," he said. "My first year here? We were picked to win the Cup."

They didn't. They lost, painfully, to the Blackhawks, and Patrick Kane's goal that ended the series began two long years of comparisons between Kane and JVR. The Flyers' odds-defying loss in the 2007 draft lottery allowed Chicago to pick Kane No. 1 overall. Van Riemsdyk fell to the Flyers. JVR represented the perpetual consolation-prize zeitgeist that had defined Philadelphia sports.

"It never bothered me once," he insisted. "The draft is the draft. I got picked where I got picked. He's a great player, and he's had a great career."

Pretty great indeed: rookie of the year, playoff MVP, league MVP, seven all-star selections and, of course, two more Stanley Cups.

Still, JVR's done OK for himself. He scored at least 27 goals four times for the Maple Leafs and had a career-high 36 last season. Philly has rejoiced over his return — but that's probably being overdone, too.

The same way his shortcomings were overblown by the success of Kane, van Riemsdyk's current strengths are overblown by the failures of Luke Schenn. JVR wasn't a bust before, and he's not a savior now. He's just a very good player, and much, much better than Schenn.

>> READ MORE: Predicting the Flyers' season

The Flyers traded JVR for Schenn in the summer of 2012 because they needed defense and they were rich in forwards. JVR, a 23-year-old puppy playing in his backyard — he grew up 90 miles northeast of Philadelphia, in Middletown, N.J. — was fighting through injuries. He did not play to the level of the 6-year, $25.5 million contract extension he'd signed the year before. Still, van Riemsdyk was trending up, if you accepted the analytics. And squinted.

Schenn, 22, had flatlined with the Leafs, but he was a risk the Flyers were willing to take. The Flyers gambled that a reunion with his brother, Brayden, would spark Luke to greatness.

The bros were sparkless. Schenn was quietly traded away in January of 2016. Meanwhile, van Riemsdyk, now 29, developed into a 6-foot-3, 217-pound, chiseled, speedy, soft-handed scoring machine, so the Flyers, desperate for goal-scoring depth and flush with salary-cap room, reacquired JVR — a very different JVR.

He averaged 19.6 goals per 82 games in Philadelphia. That jumped by 10 goals after he moved to the Great White North. What's more, the Flyers have been pleasantly surprised by JVR's instincts, which have developed beyond his numbers.

"He knows where to be, and that's really, really important," said winger Jake Voracek, who will play with van Riemsdyk on the second line with second-year center Nolan Patrick. "He knows where to be to score the goals. Not everybody has that feel for that. I definitely don't have it."

It's not just putting the puck in the net, either.

"It's the subtle plays that end up in scoring chances. Some of those things are hard to see. On a nightly basis, there's a lot of little things he does," said coach Dave Hakstol. He's usually stoic when discussing players. He was animated about JVR.

"He knows where to be on the ice and he knows where everybody else is on the ice. So he's a step ahead when he gets that puck," Hakstol gushed. "Everybody sees the natural ability around the net — he knows where to be there; he has a knack, he has a talent, an ability — and that is really hard to come by. But you see a similar ability when the puck is on his stick. He knows where other people are as well, in those tight spaces. It's a combination of the two."

And, like a natural, van Riemsdyk keeps it simple.

"He doesn't make mistakes," Voracek said. "He's very easy to read, which is good for the linemates. Sometimes you have a guy, you don't know what he's going to do with the puck, he's hard to play with. But James is really, really good."

Is this improvement Toronto-dependent? It's simple evolution, isn't it?

No. JVR's new captain, Claude Giroux, knows that evolution requires both ample opportunity and the proper environment. Giroux, a former linemate, watched van Riemsdyk struggle with expectations the first time around.

"Some players — and I've done this in the past few years — put extra pressure on yourself," Giroux said. "You don't need to do that. He's definitely a different player. With age, and with time, you learn how to not put as much pressure on yourself."

Certainly, no hockey town pressures its players like Toronto, but the organization shares that pressure. In Philly, JVR had a personal spotlight.

It's shining on him again.

His is the franchise's richest free-agent deal since the disastrous $41.88 million mistake they made with philosopher/goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in 2011, a nine-year contract that haunts them to this day.

He's Ron Hextall's first big free-agent move as the Flyers' general manager.

And he was Hexy's second choice. The Flyers wanted a shot at John Tavares, the jewel of the free-agent pool, but Tavares declined to even speak with them. He landed — where else? — in Toronto. History has a nasty knack for repeating itself. Van Riemsdyk is the Flyers' consolation prize again.

This time, he's prepared.

"You learn a lot about yourself going through some different things," van Riemsdyk said. "My journey? I wouldn't change it for anything else."