It is extremely likely that the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to lose top forward James van Riemsdyk this summer. He is an unrestricted free agent and is looking for a raise off of his current bargain basement $4.25 cap-hit, especially after such an impressive season. Experts and pundits out there are so sure that JVR will sign elsewhere that already some potential destinations for the veteran forward have been linked on social media and in recent news reports.
Since the Leafs have been eliminated during the first round of the postseason by the Boston Bruins, a lot has change. Before Evander Kane signed his seven-year, $49 million contract with the San Jose Sharks in May, JVR could have been somewhat affordable for any interested contender. However, his value has now been set by the market and he is expected to cash in after scoring 65 goals over the past two seasons.
So which teams are going to make a move in the coming weeks? Tom Hunter of Mile High Hockey believes Van Riemsdyk would be a great fit for the Colorado Avalanche, where he would make an immediate impact on a team that has improved tremendously in the past year.
"There's no doubt JVR would be a perfect on-ice fit for the Avalanche. His skill set fits in perfectly with the core of this team, and he would fill the giant need for secondary scoring. He just might not be worth the big contract he'll inevitably receive on the open market."
However, Nick Villano of Pucks and Pitchforks thinks the New Jersey Devils should make a play to land JVR despite the higher value he now has on the market.
"GM Ray Shero needs to go hard after Van Riemsdyk. Even if he costs $6 million over four years, that pays him until he's 33. He will likely keep his production up through all four of those years, barring injury. Those are the types of free agents Shero should be willing to make moves on."
However, both the Avalanche and Devils could face competition as The Athletic's Scott Powers suggests that the Chicago Blackhawks take a run at JVR as well.
"van Riemsdyk could be a long shot to sign with the Blackhawks due to cap constraints, but the two sides are expected to talk. Defense and goaltending are the glaring needs, but the Blackhawks will likely explore all ways to improve. Van Riemsdyk could be an option."
One problem remains for the Hawks: Cap Friendly indicates Chicago has over $68 million invested in 17 players with all their core players under contract next season. Assuming an $80-million cap ceiling next season, signing JVR might be too much of a challenge.
These three potential destinations are narrowing things down for the coveted free agent. Where will he end up?!?