Flyers GM: Red Wings nixed van Riemsdyk trade

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

James van Riemsdyk was headed to the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL trade deadline — until he wasn’t.

During a fairly quiet deadline day on Friday, one of the biggest attention-getting moves was one that didn’t end up happening. There were reports that the Philadelphia Flyers were trading van Riemsdyk, a veteran winger, to the Red Wings. But van Riemsdyk wasn’t traded to Detroit or anywhere else before the 3 p.m. ET deadline. He would, in fact, remain with the Flyers ahead of unrestricted free agency this summer.

According to Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher, the two teams had agreed on a trade that would have sent van Riemsdyk to Detroit for a draft pick, with Philadelphia retaining part of his $7 million cap hit. But the deal was contingent on the Red Wings trading a forward off their roster to make room for van Riemsdyk. When that didn’t happen, the whole deal was scuttled.

“They had a concept that if they were able to move a forward off of their team, then they had interest in acquiring JVR,” said Fletcher, who said he was told the deal was off 20 minutes before the trade deadline. “All along, it was conditional on the other trade going through and eventually the other trade fell through.”

Van Riemsdyk was one of the biggest names still available on Friday. In his 14th season, he has 297 career goals and had 23 points in 41 games this season. The Flyers considered him a veteran rental player that could help a contending team. Fletcher was surprised when there wasn’t a market for van Riemsdyk.

“The one offer that I did get for JVR was at 1:40 this afternoon, and it was a conditional offer,” he said. “I didn’t know what the market might be, but I thought there would be at least some offers that we had to consider.”

Fletcher said he spoke with every team in the NHL about potentially acquiring van Riemsdyk, not only so the Flyers could pick up assets for him but in the hopes of getting the veteran winger on a playoff team. But he said “every team told us ‘no’ several times” before the Red Wings came to the table.

“There’s no smoking gun here,” Fletcher said. “We certainly made everybody aware that he was available. We made everybody aware that we would retain 50% [of his cap hit]. We made everybody aware we would take a contract back if that would help. We talked about all kids of different scenarios. I can’t only control my half and there has to be a willing buyer. Until 1:40 today, we never had any type of offer.”

Fletcher said the only thing he wasn’t willing to take back for van Riemsdyk was a player with contract terms beyond this season, unless it was a player that could have helped the Flyers. But he said the market simply wasn’t there for a trade.

“Yesterday I received two calls: One on JVR and one on another player. I made 17 [calls],” said Fletcher. “We would have rather have a good pick and let JVR play in the playoffs, and the market spoke.”

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