The expiring contract of James van Riemsdyk is looming over the city of Toronto, as the Leafs forward is having yet another strong year, and Lou Lamoriello has to decide whether or not they'll retain his services at:
a) The trade deadline
b) At the NHL draft
c) On July 1st
Let's break it down quickly. The trade deadline is the time to trade rental players. Occasionally - a hockey deal is made, in other words, a deal for players/prospects with term. In this case, van Riemsdyk would evidently be a rental. Now - does Lamoriello rent him to his own team? That's typically how we describe a team holding onto an important player on an expiring contract who they likely won't re-sign following the conclusion of the season.
Most pundits believe they will. But the possibility exists to trade him to another team as a rental to them, but you'd be hard-pressed to see that happen.
At the NHL draft, there are more hockey deals done rather than trades for player rights, but this too, is a possibility. While teams know that they can wait a few more days and negotiate with the player in question during the window before free agency, some teams will make a deal so that they have first dibs to sign the player. Another way of going about it is a sign-and-trade.
Some teams will want the best chance to sign a player of JvR's ilk, and a trade before free agency is the way of going about it.
The final choice, is to wait until free agency - he could still sign after July 1st with Toronto, but it becomes a free-for-all, and if he hits that point, the odds are not stacked in Toronto's favour.
NOW WHAT WILL HE COST?
TSN's Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger recently spoke about his value on the market, and what the Leafs will have to pay to retain his services.
And the number shouldn't be surprising to anyone.
While McKenzie believes the contract will look like a 5 year deal at $6 million, Dreger sees it slightly differently.
"The money is right. I think that van Riemsdyk would take $6MM. $6MM frankly on the open market could be considered a hometown discount based on the goals he provides to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In a perfect world, I think JVR would prefer a 6×6 scenario to stay in Toronto," Dreger said.
The two insiders agree that the value of the deal will likely be at $6 million - but that's where things get dicey. He could almost certainly fetch more on the open market, and a team like the Dallas Stars could do to Toronto what they did to the Montreal Canadiens by offering the same money, but with lower taxes, the net money will be better for van Riemsdyk. That's a big factor in what brought Alexander Radulov to Texas.
With contracts on the horizon for Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander, the Leafs have to be careful with how they manage their money going forward, as an overpayment for the 28-year-old could have a serious impact on the team's ability to build a balanced roster.
What say you - should the Leafs pay up the $6 million for van Riemsdyk, or spend that money elsewhere?