We have all been so focused on the John Tavares watch, that we seem to have forgotten that the start of the free agency season also means we will get to find out where Toronto Maple Leafs pending free agent forward James van Riemsdyk will sign.
Late on Saturday evening, hours before the official kickoff to the free agency season, TSN senior hockey writer Frank Seravalli revealed that JVR is expected to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
It is expected to be a five-year deal, worth $35 million.
The deal will be made official on Sunday when JVR can put pen to paper with his former club and general manager Ron Hextall.
More than 12 teams had reportedly engaged with van Riemsdyk since the free agent interview period opened last Sunday. And the list of interested clubs grew over the course of this week, especially after veteran forward Rick Nash notified teams across the league he would not be participating in the July 1 sweepstakes and take the time to consider his future.
According to Seravalli, upwards of eight teams remained in the mix as of Friday afternoon.
And now it seems the Flyers have won the sweepstakes. The 29-year-old forward was expected to be the second most coveted free agent of the summer, behind Tavares as the premier scoring winger available coming off a 36-goal season. He has averaged 31 goals over his last four full seasons.
Just like Tavares, JVR was said to be looking for an overall fit in the lineup, intended deployment, potential to win, facilities and training and recovery methods, over dollars and annual salary.
Many believed that once Tavares would make his choice, the market would explode for JVR, who would have more options to consider with teams losing out of the derby for the New York Islanders captain. However, it seems he has decided to reunite with the team that selected him in the first round, second overall at the 2007 NHL entry draft.
Van Riemsdyk, who is coming off a six-year, $25.5 million deal he signed prior to the 2012-13 season, ended up in Toronto after he was traded by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012 in exchange for blue liner Luke Schenn, who is now also exploring the free agent market.