We start off our 2017-18 year in review in no particular order other than what the internet randomizer chose for us.
Today, we take a look at James van Riemsdyk, pending UFA and the Leafs’ leading goal scorer from the 2017-18 season.
|GP||Goals||Assists||Points||Corsi % (5v5)||xGF% (5v5)|
JVR’s expected goals percentage came 20th among forwards, meaning based on shot locations and volume, the Leafs were expected to score about 56% of the goals when he was on the ice. Though his actual GF% came in at 53.01, it’s very clear the sometimes defensively-challenged van Riemsdyk was a definite net positive for the Leafs this past season.
After starting the year with Tyler Bozak as his centre and having Mitch Marner on his opposite wing, things got switched up about halfway when Marner replaced Leo Komarov, and Connor Brown bumped in for Marner, moving Komarov to the team’s fourth line.
JVR hit the net 25 times at even strength, good enough for 17th in the NHL and second on the Leafs, behind only Auston Matthews. Adding 11 power play goals.
The biggest knock on his game this year was likely a lower assist rate, but it’s hard to say the Leafs really need him to play that role, as the team scored the NHL’s fourth most goals in the regular season.
Defensively, as noted above, JVR’s game lacked the usual lapses, as he performed as one of the Leafs’ best two way forwards, albeit sheltered in a third-line role. Among Leafs forwards with at least 50 games this season, his 54.24 shot attempts against/60 (at 5v5) led the team.
Despite his name being in trade rumours all season long as a way to recuperate some value for his upcoming expiring contract, JVR remained one of the team’s most consistent forwards. He had a brief stretch of seven games without a goal in January, but other than that, was a threat to score just about every time he was on the ice.
In the playoffs, van Riemsdyk scored three times in seven games, while managing 13 shots on net in 100 minutes of action.
In his six seasons in Toronto, you won’t find many arguing that he’s played better than he did this year.
Following the Leafs’ decision to keep him, JVR scored 11 of his goals in 18 games following the February 26 trade deadline, a 50-goal pace over 82 games.
JVR is about to get PAID, and it’s easy to see why: He’s one of the best goal scorers in the league. pic.twitter.com/vRbdC8b3v3
— Ziggy (@Ziggy_14) April 21, 2018
No real surprises here. JVR actually had his lowest average ice time per game in his time as a Maple Leaf, but made the most of it.
van Riemsdyk was on fire against the Dallas Stars on March 14, lighting the lamp three times for his third career hat trick. The next night in Buffalo, he’d strike for another two goals, making it 5 in a little over 24 hours.
There’s a very good chance that we’ve seen the last of van Riemsdyk in a Leafs uniform. A pending unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, it sounds like he’s prepared to test the open market.
James van Riemsdyk says it’s a “weird feeling” knowing that this may be the last time he’s in the #leafs locker room. He’s a UFA on July 1.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 27, 2018
It’s likely Toronto will take a look at and make a pitch for the soon-to-be-29-year-old forward, but it’s plausible that they’ll be saving their cap dollars for their younger players.
If this was the last ride for JVR in Toronto, he certainly made the most of it, making it a challenge for the Leafs to replace his value next season. While Kasperi Kapanen (and probably Andreas Johnsson) will be pushing for full-time roster spots, there’s few who occupy the front of the net quite like van Riemsdyk has.