The first of many Leafs moves before the trade deadline happened today, with the Toronto Maple Leafs dealing winger James Van Riemsdyk to the New York Rangers. I literally cannot believe it.
It was inevitable that the Leafs would start to move out some players, but “JVR” (as the fans have come to refer to him as) wasn’t expected to be one of them.
Van Riemsdyk, 26, had 29 points in 40 games prior to getting injured. On that pace, he would have finished with 59 points for the season, being one of a small number of Leafs with high-end offensive talent. That must have played into Lou Lamoriellio’s decision to move him, making sure that he doesn’t come back near the end of the season and catapult the Leafs out of the basement. At this point, it’s all about that high pick.
But while visions of Auston Matthews dance in the heads of management, moving JVR just doesn’t make sense. Sure, we may not know the return yet (the “details to come” portion of the tweet above still hasn’t become public), but based solely on what assets the Rangers have, the return won’t be enough. Van Riemsdyk is a legit top-line winger, who has become a strong all around player under Mike Babcock. At only 26, he is still young enough to fit with the core of this team, and with a cap hit of $4.25 million, he has one of the best non-ELC contracts in the league.
I understand the long-term outlook for the Leafs, but moving James Van Riemsdyk now just doesn’t make much sense. It doesn’t even make sense for the Rangers to trade for him while he is injured. They could easily be out of the playoff race by the time JVR is healthy, and replacing Dan Girardi and/or Marc Staal is a bigger need for them than another forward.
But hey, trades don’t always make sense – that’s what makes them so fun. The silly season is here, folks.