Though the Toronto Maple Leafs are still in good position to clinch a playoff berth again this spring, they might be shooting themselves in the foot on another, but as important matter. With the trade deadline fast approaching, general manager Lou Lamoriello needs to make a decision on whether or not he will be moving top forward James van Riemsdyk.
Though JVR is now on pace for a career year in goals, there is an interesting trade going and one that hints that the Leafs might truly be considering trading him off in just over a week. His minutes have been diminishing and he's turning into a situational player.
It got the attention of NHL insider Darren Dreger who discusses the chances of the Leafs trading the winger ahead of the deadline on the panel of TSN'sThat's Hockey .
"When that happens, guess what else happens! The phones start ringing, especially with the Feb. 26 trade deadline closing in. I am still on the fence on whether the Toronto Maple Leafs should be trading James van Riemsdyk, but he is a pending unrestricted free agent...." explained Dreger on Friday evening.
Last week, at least two teams that inquired about van Riemsdyk were told that he’s not available prior to the trade deadline, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
JRV is expected to be seeking a good amount on his next contract, and while the Leafs need to figure a good financial puzzle in the next two seasons, the forward has said to not be giving them the "hometown discount."
“He knows what the market is for goal scorers,” Nick Kypreos said of the contract negotiations. “He knows what the price is out there for a guy like Max Pacioretty. He’s going to be in a position to say, ‘If you want me to bring the [average annual value of a deal] down, you’re going to have to go deep in term.’
“I don’t think the Leafs are prepared to do what Washington did for T.J. Oshie, who had to go eight years. I think it’s inevitable that the Leafs may just be looking at renting their own player.”
Now with the Leafs diminishing his ice-time, they are certainly not seducing him into staying in Toronto either.
"If you're trying to sell him on the potential of staying with the Toronto Maple Leafs longer term, there's got to be a better way to do it," added Dreger in his analysis.
There had been better news for JVR on Friday however, when he took to the ice during practice and took part into the special team's unit and on the power-play, so we could see him get more time on the ice on Saturday when the Leafs face the Pittsburgh Penguins.
van Riemsdyk has 23 goals and 35 points in 58 games this season entering Saturday’s contest against the Pens. He recently revealed that he is not bothered by the trade chatter, but we can bet he might be about his ice-time reducing...