Former Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk

Former Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk


Former Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk

The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to bolster their forward corps and they could still land the best available unrestricted free agent in a reunion with James van Riemsdyk.

According to Daily Faceoff, Van Riemsdyk is one of the best remaining free agents. The outlet listed him as the “Top Remaining Free Agent” in a column written by Matt Larkin on July 9.

With the first wave of free agency already over and most high-profile free agents now signed, the Maple Leafs could still find a top-tier player available to bolster their offense. According to CapFriendly, via Larkin’s story, “a total of 185 deals were signed July 1, totaling $1,211,910,000” billion.

Larkin’s updated rank also makes Mike Augello’s report for even more enticing for Toronto, as the NHL insider recently linked the franchise with a potential reunion with the unrestricted free agent.

Van Riemsdyk spent the 2023-24 season with the Boston Bruins scoring 11 goals and assisting 27 for 38 total points. He posted a plus-7 rating in 71 games and contributed 5 points in 11 playoff games.

The forward completed a one-year deal with the Bruins with a cap hit of just $1 million. According to Daily Faceoff, he is projected to sign another one-year contract in the 2024 offseasons worth 1.2 million.

Maple Leafs’ Interested in Van Riemsdyk

The Maple Leafs could try to sign van Riemsdyk in free agency as the former Toronto forward could be one of the final pieces in the Leafs puzzle for the 2024-25 season and has been linked to the team of late.

By signing van Riemsdyk, Toronto would reunite with their former forward, who played for the Maple Leafs from the start of the 2012-13 season through the 2017-18 campaign.

NHL insider Mike Augello of mentioned that Toronto is looking for affordable free-agent forwards, highlighting van Riemsdyk’s name as one of the possibilities Toronto could explore.

“They say you can never go home again, but the 35-year-old JVR went back to Philadelphia after spending six seasons in Toronto,” Augello wrote. “Van Riemsdyk scored 11 goals for Boston last season and his top-six days may be over with, but the Leafs are looking for options.”

Van Riemsdyk played most of his 2023-24 minutes on the Bruins’ third line, averaging 13:30 of ice time per game. The Leafs are looking to strengthen their bottom-six forwards, so the former Bruin would fit that need by playing in the third or fourth forward line.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were busy. After re-signing Liljegren and Domi on Sunday, they added Chris Tanev (6 x $4.5M), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (4 x $3.5M), Jani Hakanpää (2 x $1.5M) and Anthony Stolarz (2 x $2.5M). A look at their depth chart after Day 1 of Free Agency:

Daily Faceoff’s projected depth chart has the Leafs featuring Pontus Holmberg and Connor Dewar as their bottom-six left-wing players. Van Riemsdyk’s ability to deliver in a top-nine role should improve on those two if signed by Toronto.

James Van Riemsdyk’s Six-Year Stint in Toronto

The Maple Leafs acquired van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers via trade in exchange for Luke Schenn on June 23, 2012.

The veteran was part of a forward line featuring Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul upon his arrival in Canada. The following season, that line featured Tyler Bozak instead of Lupul.

During his six-year run with the Leafs, van Riemsdyk appeared in 413 regular-season games scoring 154 goals and 140 assists for 294 total points. He also appeared in 20 playoff games with Toronto, contributing 14 points.

After his stint with Toronto, he signed a five-year, $35 million contract to return to the Flyers ahead of the 2018-19 season. During his career, van Riemsdyk has amassed $64.125 million.

Van Riemsdyk spent five more years with the Flyers before joining the Bruins for the 2023-24 NHL season.

The Bruins saw winger Jake DeBrusk leave the franchise in free agency by signing with the Vancouver Canucks. That could be a reason for Boston general manager Don Sweeney to consider and try and re-sign van Riemsdyk once the Bruins re-sign goaltender Jeremy Swayman, which makes for a more pressing priority.

It’s hard to see van Riemsdyk returning to Boston this upcoming season. As Michael DeRosa of The Hockey News pointed out on May 25, the Bruins “having younger players who could jump up in the lineup,” along with GM Sweeney “making it clear that he wants to improve scoring” make a Bruins reunion hard to envision.

Antonio Losada covers the NHL for A veteran sports writer, Antonio has covered the NBA, NFL and soccer for over 10 years, with bylines at SB Nation, FanSided, Yahoo Sports, FanGraphs, RotoBaller and more. He has also been nominated for multiple FSWA awards, including Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year. More about Antonio Losada

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