Does the Sharks Proposed Offer for van Riemsdyk Say Something Deeper about His Trade Value?

Does the Sharks Proposed Offer for van Riemsdyk Say Something Deeper about His Trade Value?

At what price, JVR?

That's the question Flyers fans have been wrestling with since James van Riemsdyk's name was first mentioned as part of a potential trade for Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn in late December.

CSNPhilly's Tim Panaccio describes the last two months for the 22-year-old as so: "So many times before, Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk had heard the trade rumors. Headed to Toronto for Luke Schenn. Part of the Rick Nash deal in Columbus. Maybe part of a larger deal that includes a goalie. You can’t be human, athlete or not, and not wonder whether the rumors have some truth behind them."

Some Flyers fans are comfortable with the idea of shipping Van Riemsdyk. Others are wary of giving up on the second-overall pick of 2007 draft so soon.

But regardless of your personal attachment, aren't you at least a little offended by the audacity of the San Jose Sharks?

Maybe it's my own fault for still holding on to the sting of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, but I can't be the only one who was blown away by San Jose's reported trade offer of Van Riemsdyk for Antti Niemi prior to Monday's trade deadline.

Yeah, that Antti Niemi. The guy who backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to a cup by being marginally better than Michael Leighton. That guy...for James van Riemsdyk.

On some level, that's insulting isn't it?

First, some concessions about Niemi's value absent from considerations specifically about Van Riemsdyk. Niemi's numbers are better than I would have expected. He recorded a 2.38 goals against average and .920 save percentage in 60 games last season. This year, he's allowing 2.51 per game and stopping 91.4 percent of what comes his way. Those numbers are, sad to say, much better than the 2011-2012 statistics of Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky.

So, on paper, the Flyers do have a "need" for a goalie with Niemi's numbers. But a closer look at the proposal reveals it as predictably flawed.

Regardless of how bad the Flyers' goalies have been, Niemi's numbers are good enough for just 20th in the league in goals against and 26th in save percentage (these numbers exclude goaltenders who have not played a required number of games to be relevant as determined by the NHL). Moreover,  a goalie's GAA isn't merely a indicator of his own performance. As a team, the Sharks allow the tenth-fewest goals in the league at 2.51 per game. Some of that is a product of the goaltending; some of it is not. For example, San Jose backup netminder Thomas Griess, a 26-year-old German whose playing just his second season in the NHL, had a 2.36 GAA and .914 save percentage in 17 games.

The key contention is that if Ilya Bryzgalov or Sergei Bobrovsky were Sharks, their numbers might be better, and that, likewise, if Niemi was a Flyer -- whose defense allowed guys to freely park in the slot -- his numbers might be worse.

Moreover, even if the Flyers were interested in acquiring Niemi, it couldn't possibly be as a starter. The team is tied to Ilya Bryzgalov for eight-and-a-half more years and a total of $51 million. Niemi, if he came, would be leaving his starting gig in San Jose to come to Philadelphia as a guy with playoff experience in case Bryzgalov can't get his act together. This is the long way of saying "he'd be coming here as a back-up."

So let's get this straight: Do the San Jose Sharks really believe James Van Riemsdyk's trade value is roughly equal (give or take anything else that might have been added to the deal) to that of a backup goaltender with (potentially) inflated numbers?

And really, the Sharks aren't "sellers" either. They're currently second in the Pacific Division and seventh in the Western Conference. Thus, the following questions appear relevant for the asking:

-- They might not be clear-cut cup contenders, but are the Sharks so confident in Griess that they would take him into the playoffs as a starter in a league where lower seeds routinely make deep postseason runs?

-- Similarly, is Niemi, in their estimation, that expendable?

-- If he is, doesn't that speak to a certain belief on their part that they can stick just anyone in goal and have him be okay?

-- And really, shouldn't a team whose goalies have been just atrocious over the last six games (Niemi and Griess have surrendered 28 goals during the stretch) be looking for a netminder rather than trying to trade its starter, especially if that starter is allegedly good enough to trade straight up for a 22-year-old, second-overall draft pick who remains one of the top young prospects in the league?

Yes, of course, the Sharks would make this trade, but why on Earth would the Flyers? This deal might not make sense for them at an even lesser price, so how could San Jose have possibly had the gall to even inquire about it as presented? Is JVR's trade value that low around the league?

All those questions beg another -- one about how the Flyers might themselves be discussing van Riemsdyk behind closed doors.

How about a breakout game against Sharks goaltender tonight, eh Reemer?

College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

Villanova headlined Philly college basketball action today with a 78-68 win over Providence, led by Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins (see full recap). The win is dampened with the news that Phil Booth is increasingly unlikely to return this season as he still deals with knee discomfort (see story).

Here's a snapshot from the rest of area hoops today.

Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The way it played this week, No. 21 Purdue is acting like a team that is determined to be in the race for the Big Ten championship all the way to the end of the regular season.

Caleb Swanigan had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Purdue built an 18-point halftime lead and coasted to a 77-52 victory over Penn State on Saturday, four days after shooting 60.4 percent in a 91-68 victory against Illinois.

Against Penn State, the Boilermakers (16-4, 5-2) got 13 points from freshman guard Carsen Edwards and 10 each from Dakota Mathias and Vince Edwards.

"I would just say we were coming out ready to play," said Vince Edwards, who added seven rebounds and three assists. "Our goal is to win the Big Ten. Our focus is to take care of business."

Josh Reaves led Penn State (11-9, 3-4) with 12 points. The Nittany Lions made only 20 of 64 field goal attempts (31.3 percent) and were outrebounded 39-30. Purdue shot 56.6 percent (30 of 53) (see full recap).

Drexel drops road game at CAA-leading UNC Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Devontae Cacok scored 12 points and set a Colonial Athletic Association record with 24 rebounds, helping UNC Wilmington stay perfect in conference with an 87-74 win over Drexel on Saturday.

Cacok, whose previous career-high rebounding was 16, broke the school record (21) and conference record (22) late in the second half as the Seahawks cruised to their ninth straight home win, tying the best mark in program history.

UNC Wilmington (19-2, 8-0) led 53-51 with 15:01 left before four players combined to rattle off 12 straight points. Cacok capped the run with one of his 11 offensive rebounds and a dunk to give the Seahawks a 65-51 lead with 11:23 remaining.

UNC Wilmington is off to its best start ever and has won 24 of its last 26 conference games, including 12 straight. Chris Flemmings led the Seahawks with 17 points.

Sammy Mojica had 15 points and Rodney Williams added 14 for Drexel (7-13, 1-6), which has lost seven of eight (see full recap).

Delaware swept in season series with Towson
NEWARK, Del. -- Mike Morsell and Arnaud William Adala Moto pulled down a dozen boards as Towson won its fourth straight and a season sweep of Delaware with a 75-58 win on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers are fresh off a win over Hofstra that saw them erase a 16-point first-half deficit, and momentum carried over when they built a 17-point lead at halftime.

Alex Thomas and John Davis added 13 and 12 points, respectively, but Towson saw its streak of three-straight games shooting better than 50 percent end. The Tigers hit 26 of 55 shots from the floor (47.3 percent), including 6 of 15 from deep.

Delaware snapped a six-game losing streak Thursday with a win over Northeastern. Ryan Daly scored 21 points for Delaware and became the first freshman in school history to post six 20-plus efforts in a season. He reached double-digits for the 12th time in 13 games (see full recap).