More than a few players on the roster of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be traded this off-season. Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf are the biggest names on the market. Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul closely follow on that list. However, there is one top player on the Leafs that should not be moved. That player is James van Riemsdyk.
Of the first line of Kessel, Bozak and van Riemsdyk, JVR is the youngest of the group (he turns 26 today). With all the Leafs struggles this season, he usurped Kessel as the leading goal-scorer of the team and finished five points behind Kessel for the points lead.
Now, JVR could fetch quite a bit in a trade. The return would be better than most of the players that will get moved will fetch. However, the Leafs must resist the temptation of moving him. Even though the Leafs would get a good return, trading van Riemsdyk would elongate the rebuild. I know Brendan Shanahan is preaching patience in this rebuild, but I’m sure he doesn’t want it to take longer than it needs to.
If the Leafs do end up trading players Kessel, Bozak and Lupul, JVR will be the offensive leader on the Maple Leafs. What’s more is that JVR was the best player on that first line at getting to the tough areas in the offensive zone. He’ll go into the corners and screen the goalie. Those are skills the Leafs will need their prospects to learn at the NHL level and van Riemsdyk can be a good role model for that.
The Leafs will probably get a few offers for van Riemsdyk in the next few months. Now, unless another NHL team goes crazy and gives the Leafs an offer they can’t refuse, JVR should be a Maple Leaf for the foreseeable future. It’s better that way. Plus, someone needs to score goals for the Leafs next season.