Rumors are beginning to surface that the Toronto Maple Leafs may trade forward James Van Riemsdyk this offseason. According to HockeyBuzz.com, there are five teams that are interested in acquiring Van Riemsdyk, three of them being the Washington Capitals, Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames.
The website The Hockey Chat added fuel to the JVR speculation by tweeting a report Wednesday that the Blackhawks are one of the other teams considering acquiring Van Riemsdyk.
Each of the three teams mentioned above, especially Minnesota and Calgary, could use another young budding star to beef up its top-six depth.
Van Riemsdyk is coming off a 27-goal season in Toronto, which also included 29 assists and a ghastly minus-33 rating. He is regarded as one of the top young forwards in the NHL and at only 26-years-old presents plenty of trade value. His cap hit is also pretty fair at $4.25 million for the 2015-16 season, according to Spotrac.com.
But could the Chicago Blackhawks be a realistic fit for JVR?
Yes and no. The trade makes perfect hockey sense. The Blackhawks have said goodbye to Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad this offseason, which leaves 39 combined goals for Chicago to replace this upcoming season. Van Riemsdyk could fit right in along the first with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
JVR is a guy looking to score first, which may merit him placement on the second line instead. Imagine what a line featuring Van Riemsdyk, Patrick Kane and Teuvo Teravainen could produce for years to come.
Da Windy City
The advanced metrics also aren’t in JVR’s favor, but that may be in part because he’s played for the dysfunctional Maple Leafs. His Corsi-for percentage the past two seasons have been 44.2 and 44.7, the two lowest metrics of his career. He showed in Philadelphia he could be a positive possession player and would likely see a big uptick in Corsi percentage playing alongside most Blackhawks.
Bringing in JVR would reunite him with his younger brother TVR, defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk. Many probably could point to the success the Sedin brothers have had together in Vancouver, but understand that it is a rare case for brothers to play on the same team. It won’t have much impact on Stan Bowman’s willingness to trade for James Van Riemsdyk either. It would simply be a nice side story.
This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but the salary numbers don’t add up. Especially if The Hockey Chats’ reports are true that the ’Hawks would have to give Toronto a prospect, a pick and take a salary dump from the Leafs in exchange for Van Riemsdyk.
This is simply speculation, but a couple of likely salary dump options for Toronto would be defenseman Roman Polak ($2.75 million cap hit, plus expiring contract) or Stephane Robidas ($3 million cap hit over next two seasons). Both are declining defensemen who are probably being overpaid and would be good options to dump in a possible trade for Van Riemsdyk.
But unless the Blackhawks are able to ship Bryan Bickell’s $4 million cap hit and Kris Versteeg’s $2.2 million tab, they wouldn’t be able to afford JVR plus a salary dump that could cost up to $7.25 million in combined salaries. According to Spotrac, the Hawks are still about $400,000 above the maximum salary cap. The numbers just don’t add up, which makes the report from The Hockey Chat difficult to comprehend.
There’s little doubt JVR would likely be a good fit on the ice for Chicago, but the only way this trade likely gets done is if the Maple Leafs take on a salary dump like Bickell. Toronto would certainly demand a top prospect in return for Bickell’s hefty wages, which means the ’Hawks could part ways with someone like Ville Pokka, Ryan Hartman or Mark McNeill along with, possibly, a first-round pick.
The price just isn’t right for Van Riemsdyk at this time, which means this trade is doubtful to occur.
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