The NHL Season is quickly approaching, with that in mind we’re going to take a look at who is (likely) to be on the Leafs roster come October 1 in Montreal. Contract numbers via CapGeek.com; Regular Stats via Hockey-reference.com; Nerd stats via behindthenet.ca. For the rest of our Player Previews go here.
James van Riemsdyk, No. 2, left winger | 6’3″, 211 LBS | 24-years old.
ToT Approved Nicknames:
4 NHL seasons, 1 with Toronto, 244 career games
$4.25-million/season through 2017-18
244 GP 65 Goals 66 Assists 131 Points
48 GP 18 Goals 14 Assists 32 Points
On-ice Corsi -9.46; PDO: 1007
You Oughta Know:
In his first season with the Leafs JVR showed the blend of size and skill that Philadelphia dreamt about when they drafted him with the second overall pick in 2007. While he had shown flashes of brilliance with the Flyers, JVR was never able to put together the complete package, that is until he was given the opportunity to skate alongside Phil Kessel on the Leafs top line for most of the season, falling just 3 goals short of his career high in 27 less games.
What to Expect:
With a healthy Joffrey Lupul in the lineup to go along with the newly acquired David Clarkson, the Toronto Maple Leafs look to have a solid top 6 group of forwards heading into the 2013/2014 campaign.
The newly found depth up front for the Maple Leafs will hopefully alleviate some of the pressure on their top line. With two legitimate lines, the opposition will now have to pick their poison in regards to who gets their top checkers, which in turn hopefully leads to a little more breathing room for all Leafs.
JVR’s breakout was a result of two changes in his game. Firstly, he was given top line minutes for the first time in his career. Skating alongside Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak for a bulk of the season, JVR logged a career high 19:12 of ice-time per game. He took advantage of this increased ice-time by firing a career high 2.9 SOG/game.
Luck also played a large factor in van Riemsdyk’s breakout as he saw his shooting percentage increase to 12.9%, up from a career level of 10.7%. Since shooting percentages (among NHL caliber players) are actually greatly based on luck, we can expect JVR’s % to drop back down to around the league average 0f 9-10%.
With that in mind I believe that JVR will show some organic improvement in his game, increasing his shots on goal to around 3.5 per game, and contribute between 25-30 goals to the Leafs this season. He will chip in around the same number of assists, and help Phil Kessel compensate for the fact that they are stuck with Tyler Bozak as their pivot.