0
Photo Credit: © James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

2016-17 Leafs’ Season in Review: James van Riemsdyk

Only 3 things in life are certain: death, taxes, and JvR trade rumours.

James van Riemsdyk had a great season for Toronto this year. With an AAV of $4.25 million and one year left on his contract,  his trade value has never and will never be higher.  As the expansion draft looms around the corner, JvR joins the group of Leafs forwards protected by the team.  This is no surprise.

Because of his high trade value, his future with the Leafs is uncertain.  Given the crop of talented up-and-comers in the organization right now, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Leafs are able to hang onto him after next season.  On the contrary, if the team is shopping him on the trade market like everyone says they are, the return should be fairly high.

Strengths

JvR had an amazing season offensively, especially given his considerably low ice time. He finished 10th amongst Leafs forwards in TOI/GP, averaging 15:53 minutes every game.  In terms of point production, van Riemsdyk tallied 62 points through 82 regular season games, a career high that was good enough for 2nd on the team.  Altogether, his point totals and offensive numbers this season were pretty impressive.

The JvR-Bozak-Marner line was one of the Leafs’ best this season.  Their point production was elite, though not exactly consistent.  On some nights, they were the Leafs best line, while on others, you barely noticed them.  Consistency was clearly not their strong suit, but they were directly responsible for scoring 26.4% of the Leafs’ total regular season goals.

JvR was 4th on the team in CF%, totalling 52.3% at even strength.  Here is Van Riemsdyk’s hero chart:

Credit: Dominic Galamini/Own The Puck

JvR’s offensive numbers definitely stood out this year.  He was elite in the offensive zone, controlling the play and providing a strong net-front presence for the Leafs.

Weaknesses

As you can tell by his terrible shot suppression statistics, JvR is not very good defensively.  Though this is clearly true, and anyone who’s seen him struggle in the defensive zone can agree, his line predominately spends most of their time playing offence rather than defence. His good possession numbers are offset by his elite offensive skills, and his defensive game could definitely use some work.

JvR has the highest OZS% of all returning Leafs forwards from last season, starting 57.1% of his shifts in the offensive zone.  It’s pretty clear that Mike Babcock doesn’t trust him defensively, and with such bad shot suppression stats, he doesn’t have a reason to.

Van Riemsdyk was shooting at 12.1%, which is significantly higher than his career average of 11%.  He may regress in terms of goal production next season, given that his shooting percentage was so high this year.

Looking Ahead

It feels as though there has been speculation of a JvR trade since the second he stepped off the plane from Philadelphia.  As we enter yet another offseason filled with speculation, van Riemsdyk’s name will likely pop up in almost every trade proposal you here.

Don’t get me wrong, JvR is fantastic trade bait.  A 62 point player making $4.25 million a year is a hot commodity these days.  If the Leafs are able to get a proper return, I have absolutely no complaints about a trade. Should he be traded, his absence on the left wing leaves a pretty significant hole in the Leafs depth chart.  Looking internally, Josh Leivo, or perhaps Brendan Leipsic (if he isn’t picked up in the expansion draft), should be ready to claim his spot. If he remains with the team next season, my best guess would be he would have a similar season to this years, but with a slight decline in offensive production.

To me, it seems like if the Leafs wanted to trade him, they would have done so already.  On the contrary, his value has never been higher than it is right now, especially given that he will be a UFA in 2018.  If the Leafs were to trade him, now would be an ideal time.