Maple Leafs, James Van Riemsdyk: Silent Assassin

Middletown, New Jersey native James Van Riemsdyk is quietly on a tear this season, already surpassing last seasons total of goals scored (29) in 12 fewer games. Van Riemsdyk has scored 31 goals this season topping the 30-goal mark for the second time during his long Toronto tenure. JVR has come close to the 30-goal milestone twice with the Maple Leafs before; scoring 29 last season and 27 during the 14/15 campaign.

Although Van Riemsdyk isn’t necessarily on pace for a career high in points, he has become a critical piece in the Maple Leafs cup run. JVR has now scored 31 goals in 70 games played, adding 16 assists to that offensively dominant resume. Van Riemsdyk’s goal scoring ability is becoming highly recognizable this season due to the offensive consistency the Maple Leafs have developed, despite a short midseason dry spell.

For the most part, the Maple Leafs have found no issues scoring goals this season, currently sitting second in the league with 239 goals for, 18 goals behind the league leading Tampa Bay Lightning (257). JVR has added steadily to these stats both on special teams and even strength. Van Riemsdyk sits second on the Maple Leafs with 22 even strength goals; only 4 behind team leading Auston Matthews (26). JVR shares the lead for power play goals with Nazem Kadri at 9.

What if Toronto traded him?

Since the trade deadline, JVR has scored 11 points in 12 games, including a hat-trick against the Dallas Stars on March 14th. This hot streak has come at a pivotal time as Auston Matthews has remained out of the line up since February 22nd when he suffered an upper body injury against the New York Islanders. The Maple Leafs have a surprisingly impressive record without their All- Star center (10-6-2) which is positive statistics considering Matthews was leading the team in goals before the JVR outburst this past week.

JVR’s scoring streak could not have come at a better time for the 28 year old as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason on July 1st. Financially, a 30 goal scoring power forward is set to make anywhere between 4.5 – 6 million dollars. An expensive asset, as signing their future young stars is a priority.

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Lou Lamoriello opted to go for the alternative option and keep Van Riemsdyk for their own rent-a-player. Thus far, this has ultimately proved good for the Maple Leafs as the playoff picture starts to narrow in and the competition grows stronger. Although JVR will certainly cost a lot of money next season, considering the option to re-sign him; Lamoriello has shown that he is willing to do what it takes to bring the Maple Leafs organization back to a Stanley Cup winning team.

The latest victory against the Sabres gave the Maple Leafs 91 points on the season, 5 points away from the second place Boston Bruins. Now, 14 points clear of the Florida Panthers the Toronto Maple Leafs are comfortably in a playoff spot. If the Maple Leafs continue this offensively dominant season, a deep playoff run may not be so far off their radar.