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James van Riemsdyk almost ready to return to Flyers’ lineup

High-scoring left winger James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers' key off-season signing, could return as early as Thursday after being sidelined for 16 games with a knee injury.

Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk, shown getting position in a preseason game against the Islanders, could return to the lineup as early as Thursday.
Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk, shown getting position in a preseason game against the Islanders, could return to the lineup as early as Thursday.Read moreYONG KIM

It appears left winger James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers' big free-agent signing in the off-season, will return to the lineup Thursday or Saturday.

Coming off a career-high 36-goal campaign in Toronto, van Riemsdyk has been sidelined since taking a puck off his right knee in the second game of the season. He has missed 16 games.

Van Riemsdyk, 29, has been skating with the team recently, and he said Tuesday you "have to put trust" in the injury-rehab process "so it's not something that's lingering all year long."

In July, he signed a five-year, $35-million free-agent contract to return to the Flyers. Four periods into the season, he was sidelined.

"That's not the way you draw it up when you're thinking of coming back," he said. "But it is what it is. These sort of things happen. They're part of the game, and unfortunately it was a fluky thing. It's not one of those things where I can look back and say, 'Oh, if I prepared a little better, or did this a little differently, then maybe this wouldn't have happened.' I pride myself on taking really good care of myself and putting myself in a good position to succeed."

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When van Riemsdyk returns, he will probably go on the third line with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds. Dale Weise, the current third-line left winger, will likely drop to the fourth line at right wing. In that scenario, fourth-line right winger Nic Aube-Kubel would be an extra player.

In addition to being one of the team's top left wingers, van Riemsdyk will probably be used on the second power-play unit.

"Coming into the year, he was a guy we felt was going to be a big part for us," coach Dave Hakstol said. "It's unfortunate he went out early with the injury, but no question we're looking forward to getting him back into the mix……and getting his abilities and his veteran presence back into our lineup."

Asked if he expected to play Thursday against visiting New Jersey, van Riemsdyk said, "We'll see. Just day by day. Right now, I feel pretty good. We'll see what the medical [people] and that side says."

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Van Riemsdyk is looking forward to returning to Toronto for a Nov. 24 game against his ex-team.

"I have very fond memories there," he said. "Again, it was a very exciting time in my life, too. Obviously you want to go back there and get a big win. They're in our conference and they're one of those teams you know will be there come playoff time. But for now, I'm just worried about [Wednesday's practice] and getting myself ready to go."


Entering Tuesday, Claude Giroux needed two assists to tie Brian Prop (480) for second place on the Flyers' all-time list, behind Bobby Clarke (852)….Jordan Weal began Tuesday fifth in the league in faceoff percentage (59.7).