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Report: Both Babcock and JVR address Leafs’ trade speculation

Is the big man headed elsewhere this deadline? And what does his coach think about it?

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The constant “will they” or “won’t they” regarding a deadline day trade for Toronto Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk has surrounded the team all season. JVR is set to become an unrestricted free-agent for the first time in his career this offseason and it’s very likely that the Leafs simply won’t have the cash to re-sign him. That leaves the Leafs front office with two options:

  1. Trade JVR now in an attempt to recoup some future assets.
  2. Keep JVR for a playoff run and let him walk in the offseason.

It’s a true dilemma for Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello, who stands to win and lose in both scenarios. It remains to be seen what happens between now and the NHL’s February 26th trade deadline, but one thing’s for sure: JVR’s mind won’t stop working overtime until things get resolved one way or another.

“You’ve seen different trades over the years and you realize that no one’s safe ever no matter what so, with that in mind, it kind of eases your mind, knowing that it’s really outside your control,” van Riemsdyk said to TSN’s Mark Masters. “Obviously, there’s a degree of humanity in it, because we all are human so some of that can creep in sometimes, but at the end of the day it’s out of your control.”

 Of course, this isn’t the first time the power forward has been traded. Former Leafs GM Brian Burke pulled off an absolutely steal when he acquired JVR from the Philadelphia Flyers for Luke Schenn back in 2012.

“That was a little different,” JVR explained. “I think I kind of knew something was going to happen so, in that sense, I was a little more prepared for it … I think the longer you play the more you really realize how far out of your control that sort of stuff is. There’s different things that happen over the course of these things. You just keep showing up where they tell you to show up and put your best foot forward and go from there. That’s kind of the approach I take for it.”

One of JVR’s biggest fans, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, feels for his player. “It doesn’t matter what I say, they’re going to listen to speculation,” Babcock said, “and most of it is speculation, because the people who think they’re in the know aren’t in the know. The only people who are, are general managers and the general managers don’t know what’s going to happen so you can speculate ‘till you’re blue in the face. I’ve been through a ton of them and even when you think you know what’s going on you don’t know what’s going on.”

Teammate Tyler Bozak has also heard the trade speculation and rumours regarding his future in Toronto, but takes a different stance than JVR on the matter.

“I, personally, don’t think about it,” Bozak said while smiling. “(It’s) probably my sixth year here that they’ve been saying I’m getting traded.”