It’s no secret that Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk is in line to get PAID this upcoming offseason. The 28-year-old power forward is in the final year of his six year, $25.5 million contract that pays him an annual salary of $4.25 million. With 16 goals and 25 points already in just 35 games this season, JVR could very well become the highest scoring player in free-agency this offseason. That is… unless the Leafs sign him before July 1st.
One NHL insider, TSN’s Pierre McGuire believes that the team will make a strong effort to keep the player in Toronto. Appearing on TSN 1050’s Leafs Lunch with Andi Petrillo today, McGuire said, “I think that Lou Lamoreillo and Brendan Shanahan will evaluate the entire situation and say that he’s one of our core seven… and we’d like to keep him.”
Of course, the sticking point will be dollars and term. If JVR wants to be paid like a top player, he’ll likely have to find that contract elsewhere. But if he’s willing to fit into the team’s salary structure, he could remain in Toronto. “Is it going to be about term? Is it going to be about dollar value? Does James really like playing here? There’s going to be a lot of different things that will come into play,” says McGuire.
There’s no question that JVR is earning his keep, as it currently stands. But if he commands a salary north of $6 million in free-agency, what does that do for the team’s young core of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander? Can the Leafs afford to have so many forwards on big contracts?