The early part of the Flyers' season just got a lot more challenging.
James van Riemsdyk, the biggest free-agent signing of general manager's Ron Hextall's tenure, will miss five to six weeks with an injury suffered Saturday in Colorado, the club announced Monday.
The 29-year-old left winger, playing in his second game in his second stint with the Flyers, blocked a first-period clearing attempt by the Avalanche's Mark Barberio and hobbled off the ice. He appeared to get hit on the inside of his right knee.
"It's a big loss, but it's going to be other guys who are going to step up and fill some roles," center Sean Couturier said after Monday's practice in Voorhees. "It's just an opportunity for someone else."
When the Flyers (1-1) play their home opener Tuesday against San Jose, Jordan Weal, who didn't play in the first two games, will take van Riemsdyk's spot on a third line that includes rookie Mikhail "Misha" Vorobyev and Wayne Simmonds. Oskar Lindblom will replace van Riemsdyk on the second power-play unit.
Last season, Weal was a disappointment as he managed just eight goals. Van Riemsdyk scored a career-high 36 with Toronto.
Weal, 26, has played on Simmonds' line in the past, but he will be with Vorobyev for the first time.
"He seems like he's always in the right spot and making good plays," Weal said of Vorobyev. "… It'll be good to work with those two."
Weal said he had to "do what I do best — that's creating plays, creating offense, and being strong all over the ice defensively. … [If I] go out and do that, the team will have success and I'll have success."
Van Riemsdyk, who signed a five-year, $35 million deal in the offseason, helped give the Flyers three dynamic lines and also balanced the power play.
Now they will be without him until around Nov. 13, which means he would miss 15 games.
The Flyers are 28-16-6 in home openers, including last year's 8-2 romp past Washington, the eventual Stanley Cup champion.
"It'll be fun. Last year, we played really well there," said Weal, whose team had a 22-13-6 record at the Wells Fargo Center last season. "It's always fun to get the Flyers fans back behind you and get the crowd going."
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