Toronto Maple Leafs Land James Van Riemsdyk

June 24th, 2012 9 Comments

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke continued to work his magic this weekend, pulling off a trade that had long been rumored, acquiring forward James van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers in return for defenseman Luke Schenn.

The move will unite Schenn with brother Brayden in Philadelphia, while Toronto gets a legitimate top-six forward that will add some much needed goal scoring and some jam along the boards and in front of the net.

Originally drafted second overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, JVR stands 6’3” and weighs in at 200 pounds. He is considered to be a power forward, but don’t expect him to hit everything that moves. His skill set is more on the offensive side, which is ‘ok’ by the Leafs Nation and general manager Brian Burke.

“This is not a guy who’s going to put people through the glass. Said Brian Burke of JVR. This is a skill player with size, that uses his size effectively. This is not a plough-horse, this is a thoroughbred.”

On the upside, JVR already has one 20-goal season on his resume (2010-11). He scored seven playoff goals that season as well, which says something about his ability to raise his level of play when the chips are down. On the negative side, JVR has the reputation for being injury prone, including a concussion last season which contributed to him playing just 43 games last season.

JVR is under contract through 2017-18, carrying a cap hit of $4.25 million per season. IF JVR can remain healthy and hit the 30-goal mark on a consistent basis his contract will be considered a steal. If, however, he succumbs to injuries and fails to click with the Maple Leafs that $4.25 million will be an albatross hanging over Burke’s head.

Still, when JVR (23) did play he had moments of brilliance and did manage to put up 24 points in the 43 games that he did play in, so there is evidence he can be an effective player.

With Burke seemingly stockpiling young defensemen over the past two seasons, Schenn became expendable. Under the leadership of the now departed Ron Wilson Schenn’s role with the club diminished greatly, which may have caused Schenn to lose his confidence.

With no Chris Pronger in the Flyers lineup, Schenn will bring an element of grit to the Flyers and should continue his trend of being amongst the NHL’s hit leaders. Let’s face it; Pronger may have played his last NHL game, so the Flyers needed to address his loss on some level.

While many Maple Leaf fans are excited about the JVR acquisition, I would like to remind everyone that we are talking about a 40-point player that, yes, has a lot of upside, but will have to make good on those expectations with the Blue and White.

Unlike an acquisition of Bobby Ryan (who may very well land in Philly now) or Rick Nash, JVR is hardly a slam dunk to be an impact player.

That said, Schenn was no longer fitting into the Maple Leafs plans, and he too brings a measure of risk to the Flyers, so in the end Burke looks to have gotten good value here.

It will be interesting to see how Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle uses JVR. Will he use him on the first line alongside Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel, or ask him to centre that line? Or, will Carlyle chose to drop JVR down to the second unit and see if he can rekindle the likes of Nikolai Kulemin (pending RFA) and Mikhail Grabovski?

From the outside looking in, if JVR is willing and able to make the move to centre the Maple Leafs could benefit huge, but I digress.

One thing is for certain, Burke is far from done tinkering with his lineup this summer. Assuming a $70,300,000 salary cap for next season, the acquisition of JVR leaves Burke with just under $13 million with which to add some valuable pieces to the puzzle. Rumors are still swirling about a possible trade for Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, and there is still a chance that Burke will go after Jake Gardiner’s former college defensive partner Justin Schultz on July 1st.

The Maple Leafs badly need an injection of grit throughout the lineup, so don’t rule out Burke making a move to improve his bottom-six forwards, either by trade or through free agency.

Burke will also have to make a decision on forward Nikolai Kulemin and defenseman Cody Franson, both of whom are restricted free agents. Joey Crabb and Jay Rosehill are also in need of new contracts, but it is unknown if either unrestricted free agent will be back with the Blue and White next season.

These are interesting times for Burke, and with his job possibly on the line this season here’s hoping he gets the recipe for playoff success right this time.

Until next time,









  1. peterj says:

    Schenn,s problem is twofold, one Wilson did a number with his head, and more importantly his skating. Schenn is just to slow to be really effective in today’s game, and I don’t think he has a very high hockey IQ.

    With the pace of the game today D men have to have great wheels and be quick in the thinking aspect as well. Schenn is not a fast skater and more often than not his thinking process was a step behind as well.

    JVR if he stays healthy should fill a glaring need with Leafs, a big body with great wheels and a decent hockey IQ. If he could play centre, especially with Lupul and Kessel, well we will all feel we have died and gone to heaven.

    I think the way the Leafs made their picks in the draft was a good indication that they were going to move a D man, hopefully it works out well for both players.

  2. Mark Ritter says:


    There is no question Schenn can hit, but he lacks that killer instinct. Maybe playing with his Brother who goes ball$ out every night will rub off on him. Luke is a simple stay-at-home D-man, who, if he sticks to that game, will be destined to be a 5-6 D-man. I think he will do well in the playoffs though. If you gave him a guy to shut down I think he would excel at this role. Your point about his skating seems to be valid. Luke got caught falt-footed on more than one occassion last season. What it all comes down to is work ethic. Luke has the ability to be a 3-4 D-man, but he has to work on his defensive coverage and skating if he really wants it. I like JVR, but man is he ever gonna be under the gun to produce next season. Most of the media and fans have annoited him the Maple Leafs latest Savior and I just don’t know that he is that kinda player…at least not yet. Injuries always play a role in a players success, lets just hope his head is alright!

  3. Dave says:

    Agreed Mark. I see two scenarios here. The reincarnation of Tim Connolly, or conversly (and hopefully) and big bodied forward putting up 65-80 points.

    If he’s healthy, we’ll be ahead of the game. I think the pressure will work itself out if Carlyle finds him the right chemistry.


  4. Mark Ritter says:

    Hey Dave—

    I think 65 points is a lot more realistic than the point of game/ 40 goal pace that everyone seems to be talking about. There has always been this underlying belief that a player that joins the Maple Leafs will somehow elevate their game to a new level. I am here remind everyone that typically that does not happen here in T.O., in fact, the opposite is often true.

    The good news is JVR is young, has upside and should benefit from the extra minutes and possibility of playing with Kessel and Lupul.

    There is also a lot of talk about him playing centre. While that would be a Godsend, I wouldn’t hold our collective breaths. Moving to centre is never easy. I remember when Sundin started playing wing instead of centre and he really struggled and he resented the switch.

    The way I look at it is Schenn wasn’t going to play the minutes in Toronto to justify the salary he is earning so I am happy to roll the dice here and see if JVR works out.

    Later man!

  5. Dave says:

    Well said bro. I’d say a good measure of success would be a 60-65 point season. I dont think thats too much to ask for if the guy stays healthy. Agreed though, expectations need to be temperered. Like you said though, if he ends up in the middle of Kessel and Loops, he’ll get his points.

    Now we just need to figure out who Burkie is closing in on….I have a feeling its a total sleeper that none of us are talking about. Time will tell, but I think he’s going to go Philly style – balls to the wall this year. In part to keep his job and in part to save face. Time will tell…


  6. Mark Ritter says:


    You get the feeling Burke is quite serious about bringing in Luongo. I am not sure it happens, but he seems interested.

    I think the JVR trade means we are out of the running for Nash and I really cannot see parise wanting to come here at all.

    When you consider the options via free agency I think any improvements come via trade. We have to see how the cap ends up. If teams are stretched for cash Burke may be able to steal an asset.

    There are lots of pieces to trade and Burke has shown he is not opposed to moving a draft pick. Here’s a name for you- completely off the charts—Mike Ribeiro—oh yeah, he already got moved! He could have helped us down the middle, shame we didn’t land him.

    If Burke lands someone, it will be a move like that that nobody sees coming, I agree with you man!

    I question how serious Burke is about Kulemin. Looks like those two sides are going to go at it again. There are a ton of questions to be answered: Is Kules now out of the picture? Should Burke trade him?(I know he is a RFA)…or does he move MacArthur now? And where the hell will Bozak be playing next season?

    Burke needs to add some veteran prescence and some two-way toughness on the bottom six. Perhaps he can find those guys via UFA?

    Exciting times, lets hope Burke doesn’t screw it up!

    Peace Bro!

  7. a goalie is what toronto really needs . go get em brian no matter what the cost .

  8. brian for the love of god get a good goalie and a top center forward .we leaf fans are trying to help

  9. […] the draft and free agency already behind him and yet another big trade which saw Burke land forward James van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers in return for fan favorite defenseman Luke Schenn already in the books? Curious, indeed!A changing of the guard at the ownership level which saw Bell […]

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