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Van Riemsdyk to wear No. 25 with Flyers

Forward returning to Philadelphia after signing as free agent July 1

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- James van Riemsdyk decided to go with a familiar number in his return to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Van Riemsdyk, who signed a five-year contract with Philadelphia on July 1, opted to wear No. 25 for the upcoming season, the number he wore the past two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, rather than the No. 21 he wore his first three seasons with the Flyers.

He changed to No. 25 in Toronto after it retired Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Borje Salming's No. 21 on Oct. 15, 2016.


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"It's a new time, a new change, new challenge, so I wanted to have something to reflect that," van Riemsdyk said Wednesday.

Selected by the Flyers with the No. 2 pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, van Riemsdyk played his first three seasons in Philadelphia before he was traded to Toronto on June 23, 2012.

Six years later, van Riemsdyk said he feels he has the experience to complement the pieces the Flyers have in place.

"I think everything about the fit here seemed to be great," the 29-year-old said. "Lots of talented players here to play with lots of youth, too, on the way, which is exciting."

Though he enjoyed his time in Toronto, van Riemsdyk said he went into free agency knowing he'd sign someplace different.

Video: Van Riemsdyk talks about signing with the Flyers

"[The Maple Leafs] had told me a few weeks before free agency they were going to be going in a different direction," he said. "You appreciate that. I enjoyed my time there. I think it was good for me as a person, good for my career. [I] had a lot of great memories playing there. I always look back fondly on my time there. Telling me that beforehand was good because it allows you to assess your situation a little differently in free agency, take some of the emotion out of it that might come from having those feelings of being some place for six years, and then you can really start to look at things objectively."

Four players from his first stint in Philadelphia remain on the roster: forwards Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. The Flyers' practice facility also has gone through a dramatic makeover.

But in the end, there was enough familiarity on and off the ice to make returning to Philadelphia the best option for the New Jersey native.

"Me being in a place that I've been before, being comfortable with some of the guys that have been here for a while and the guys that I was with before, that makes it a little easier," van Riemsdyk said. "Some familiar faces on the staff. That's exciting stuff."

What's exciting for Philadelphia is the addition of a player who has scored at least 27 goals in four of past five seasons, including an NHL career-high 36 last season. No Flyers player has scored at least 36 goals in a season since Scott Hartnell had 37 in 2011-12.

"Goal-scoring is at a premium in the League, and we couldn't be happier to have a goal-scorer back in the organization," general manager Ron Hextall said.

Philadelphia reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season despite scoring the fewest 5-on-5 goals among Eastern Conference playoff teams (158). Of van Riemsdyk's 36 goals in 2017-18, 25 were at even strength, which would have tied Giroux for the Flyers lead. 

Hextall said it's likely van Riemsdyk will start the season at left wing on a line with center Nolan Patrick, but that coach Dave Hakstol will make the final determination on lines.

"Being a lefty, it's fun to play with right-shot players," van Riemsdyk said. "As a lefty that chemistry comes a little more naturally with that sort of stuff. There's going to be lots of different things that we'll go through in training camp and the start of the season to see what works best. But certainly, there's lots of different things that can be tried."

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