TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 1: James van Riemsdyk #25 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates in the warm-up prior to play against the Detroit Red Wings during the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic at BMO Field On January 1, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

James van Riemsdyk is coming off the most productive offensive year of his career. Entering the final year of his contract in 2017-18, JVR will be looking to cash in on his offensive upside, while helping the Toronto Maple Leafs improve on their playoff berth last season.

James van Riemsdyk has had an offensive touch at every level. He scored 74 points in two seasons at the University of New Hampshire, which ultimately led to him being drafted second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007.

Early in his career, he was viewed as a player that could one day have first line potential. With his size and speed, van Riemsdyk was going to be a force to be reckoned with. In his rookie year, he spent much of his time playing alongside Claude Giroux on the Flyers third line. Van Riemsdyk scored 15 goals and 20 assists, while Giroux added 47 points. The tandem added depth scoring to an already talented Flyers team which made the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

JVR would follow his rookie season with a pair of productive years in which he would score a combined 64 points. He parlayed the success into a six-year deal with the Flyers, at an affordable cap hit of $4,250,000.

Less than one year later, however, after a disappointing 24 point season, the Toronto Maple Leafs cut a deal which sent a highly rated defensive prospect in Luke Schenn to the Flyers in return for van Riemsdyk.

With the Maple Leafs

During his time with the Maple Leafs, James van Riemsdyk has been one of the top offensive talents on the team, scoring 118 goals in the last five seasons. Perhaps more impressively, van Riemsdyk was one of the few who survived the purge which happened when the Leafs made the transition to their new management team. This shows the confidence that Mike Babcock, Brendan Shanahan, and Lou Lamoriello have in the American winger to not only contribute on the ice but as a leader in the dressing room as well.

Van Riemsdyk also had a very successful campaign in 2016-17, setting a career high with 62 points playing with Tyler Bozak and Mitch Marner for the majority of the season.  He saw a fair amount of time on the second unit that Mike Babcock deployed on the power play.

Van Riemsdyk has also helped to create big matchup problems for the Maple Leafs, as the van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Marner line often saw shifts against the other teams second or third lines due to the offensive balance over the Leafs top nine forwards.

Over his career, James van Riemsdyk has also represented Team USA at the 2014 Olympics, as well as at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Profile (via EliteProspects)

Age: 28

Position: LW

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 209 lbs

Draft: First Round, 2nd overall in 2007 by Philadelphia

Contract (via CapFriendly)

Van Riemsdyk is entering the final year of a six-year deal he signed with the Flyers in 2011. The contract carries a cap hit of $4,250,000. It has a modified no-trade clause in which the player may submit a 10 team no-trade list.

As an unrestricted free agent come season end, van Riemsdyk’s name will continue to arise in trade rumours as it is unlikely he re-signs with the Maple Leafs next summer.

2017-18 Season

James van Riemsdyk is in a unique position when looking at the Maple Leafs roster. He has been a 30 goal scorer in the league and is coming off a 62 points season,  the most he has scored in his career.

Yet despite this, van Riemsdyk is often the main player mentioned conversation when the trade talks start up. This is mainly because he is in the last year of his contract and has some value due to his offensive productivity. Despite this, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been reluctant to move him.

The organization has enough depth and prospects on offense that they should not need to add another player up front.  The only way he would get move is if a bonafide top-four pairing defenceman was on the table. It is unlikely that anybody would be willing to pay such a ransom, for a player who will likely just be a rental. Because of this, van Riemsdyk may be mean the most to the organization exactly where he is right now, playing off the wing of Tyler Bozak.

It is likely that van Riemsdyk could improve on his numbers from a year ago if Marner can continue to grow as a playmaker. Heading into a contract year, he should have some extra motivation to perform well. In all likelihood, this will be JVR’s last season in Toronto, as they will not be able to afford him with the new contracts of Auston MatthewsWilliam Nylander, and Mitch Marner on the horizon.  Expect James van Riemsdyk to be a big offensive contributor to the offense of this team in 2017-18.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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