The Toronto Maple Leafs made it to the playoffs last season, which has increased expectations around this young core group heading into the 2017-18 campaign.
The contributions of Toronto’s youthful players — Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner headline that list — was a major storyline all throughout last season, as the Maple Leafs qualified for the playoffs.
It isn’t forgotten, however, that the 28-year-old van Riemsdyk scored 29 goals and a career-best 62 points last season. Though Darren Dreger of TSN pointed out that he feels van Riemsdyk can still be better, especially when it comes to consistently using his speed and size to drive the net.
Van Riemsdyk now enters the final year of a six-year, $25.5 million contract and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Per CapFriendly, that contract includes a modified no-trade clause.
“I’m not predicting that JVR is the likely candidate to get traded, when you look at the potential three unrestricted free agents in (Leo Komarov, Tyler Bozak) and JVR, but I think that there would be teams out there that would pay more for JVR based on exactly what we just said.
“Every coach is arrogant enough to think, and general managers fit into this as well — how many times have you seen the reclamation projects? Where a team will sign a player as a free agent and you’ll go, ‘Really? Like honestly? What do they see that we’re not seeing?’ Well, it’s exactly that. It’s the coach who thinks he can finally be the missing link to pull out something out of that player. There’s not a lot to have to do with JVR, but if you can push him up to that next level … man, you’ve got a horse. Because of that, maybe he is the obvious trade target as the season unwinds because people pay a premium for him.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time van Riemsdyk has been mentioned as a possible trade target. Even last season, there were rumors that he ultimately had to address.
He was doing the same thing before training camp earlier this month, too.
“That’s stuff you can’t worry about as a player,” van Riemsdyk told the Toronto Star. “It’s out of your control. I just want to go out there, play, and be a productive member of the team, and hopefully the rest of it figures itself out.”