|JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK|
|Depth Chart Location:||First line LW|
|Contract Status:||- Two more seasons at $4.25 million AAV
- Becomes UFA on July 1, 2018
James van Riemsdyk, a second overall pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007, had a relatively slow start to his NHL career. Mixed in were two concussions that were big setbacks for him in the regular season, but there were also flashes of strong play, particularly his big playoff performance in 2011 (seven goals in 11 games).
After getting traded to Toronto in a straight-up swap for Luke Schenn prior to the 2012-13 lockout, van Riemsdyk was soon placed on the Leafs’ top line with Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak, where he put up numbers good enough to be named to Team USA for the Sochi Olympics the following season. A big forward at 6’3, his intensity wavered, however, and his defensive play left you wanting more. After two seasons under Randy Carlyle, both of which were productive offensively, van Riemsdyk’s effort down the stretch under Peter Horachek was abysmal, and he was one-third of one of what could be fairly labeled one of the worst defensive lines in the league at the time.
Fast forward to last season, his first under new head coach Mike Babcock, and van Riemsdyk looked like a new player. He played to his size, was hard on pucks, and was difficult to strip. His possession metrics skyrocketed from a 44.9 CF% to a 55.52 CF% within the new systems as he thrived with better support all over the ice. His points production, although cut short with a broken bone after blocking a shot after only 40 games, was back around his four-year average of .71 at .73 – extrapolating to around 29 goals and 31 assists over a full season. This despite a Leafs powerplay that — while effective at generating shots — was woeful in its execution.
In 2016-17, van Riemsdyk’s role as a veteran on what will almost certainly be a very young team will be an important one. There isn’t much in the way of offensively-gifted players showing the gaggle of young Leaf players how to do it at the NHL level, so his presence on and off the ice is valuable to the organization.
How Mike Babcock deploys van Riemsdyk at even strength will be worth monitoring; he’s clearly a first-line calibre player, but Babcock may use Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov to shut down opposing team’s top lines while freeing up a second line of van Riemsdyk, Bozak and a rookie – either Connor Brown, Mitch Marner or William Nylander — to try and take advantage of a softer matchup against other teams’ second lines.
Where van Riemsdyk should make hay — offensively — is on the powerplay, where he’s a lock on unit one as the Leafs‘ best net-front option. As opposed to last season’s roster, he will now have some legitimate pass and shoot options and, inversely, players with good enough vision to get him the puck through sticks and legs (as well as hard, quick releases that can execute if JVR gets them the puck).
With some more speed and offensive creativity from his new, younger teammates, combined with having the puck more in a second year under Babcock’s systems, it’s not hard to envision van Riemsdyk putting up production in line with his career numbers or slightly above, should he be able to avoid freak injuries like last season’s broken foot. van Riemsdyk will be turning 28 in May and offensive production typically peaks at 24-26 years old, so there may be a bit of natural tail off in his numbers starting to factor in.
He makes it pretty easy as far as what he expects out of you. I think that guidance, especially for when you don’t have the puck, is huge as far as the structure that we play with. Every guy knows what to do and I think it allows us to have the puck more. One of the frustrating parts about when I got injured is that I felt I was playing some of the best hockey that I’ve played in my career. Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes sometimes, but it definitely leaves me kind of itching for next year. I’m really excited for the potential that all that has.
– James van Riemsdyk on the impact of Mike Babcock on his game
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected 2016-17 Depth Chart
This chart will update as we slot each player on the depth chart following the publishing of each player preview.
|J. van Riemsdyk||1C||Leo Komarov|
James van Riemsdyk Career Boxcar Statistics
James van Riemsdyk Career Enhanced Statistics
James van Riemsdyk HERO Chart