It seems hard to believe that top forward James van Riemsdyk could not be back with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. The guy is on fire: on Wednesday night, he tallied a hat-trick in a 6-5 shootout win over the Dallas Stars, and then, he scored some more goals on Thursday that as his scoring surge continued. Van Riemsdyk had two goals and an assist to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres and has now taken the team's lead in goals with 31, over star forward Auston Matthews.
With the win, the Maple Leafs picked up their third consecutive win following a four-game losing streak. But the Canadian team could lose big this summer, as you better start believing that the 28-year-old former first round pick will not be back in Toronto next season.
The main issue is quite simple: there is no dialogue taking place between the forward and the Leafs management. As NHL insider Darren Dreger reported last night on a segment on Insider Trading on TSN, both camps are not on the same page - there is no page at all for that matter!
"[It's hard to imagine where they'd be without him, but they will have to get used to it] based on the fair lack of dialogue between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the camp organized and managed by James van Riemsdyk's agent.", explained Dreger. "The reality is they haven't had any meaningful negotiations to date, now that can change with Lou Lamoriello picking up the phone very quickly at the end of the year and saying 'hey, we are willing to go in at six years, $6 million, but that seems unlikely with Matthews being top priority, then you've got Mitch Marner, you've got William Nylander, and only a limited amount of Toronto Maple Leafs cap space."
"But the market value for James van Riemsdyk is very significant. When we look at the free agent frenzy, well you're going to see John Tavares at the top of that list on that graphic, and then you are going to see JVR. He is a 6+ million dollar player, on a seven-year term according to some teams, and if he goes slightly under, maybe on a five or six-year term, then he is probably closer to $6.5 million."
Van Riemsdyk is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July and his next contract could very well be the most lucrative of his career. However, it might not come from the Leafs, since they do need to re-sign the trio of Matthews, Marner and Nylander, as expected, it leaves little room for another big long-term contract.
As of now before any trades or signing coming this summer, the Leafs have $39.05 million committed to 10 players for next season, with veteran forward Patrick Marleau the highest paid at $6.2 million per season.
Van Riemsdyk for now focuses on the number of goals, and not any other numbers.
“I just try to get to the good spots on the ice where you can score goals,” he said after his three-goal performance against the Stars, “and I’m playing with smart players who know how to get the puck to those areas.”
How upset would you be to see JVR leave Toronto for another club?