Latest on the Leafs – April 3, 2017

by | Apr 3, 2017 | Rumors | 29 comments

Can the Toronto Maple Leafs afford to re-sign James van Riemsdyk?

A look at how re-signing some of the Leafs young players could affect efforts to address issues elsewhere.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited NHL insider Elliotte Friedman discussing possible moves by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sportsnet 590. The Leafs need experienced depth on their defense. Friedman noted defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner are the biggest names potentially available via this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.

However, the Leafs must also re-sign young stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander within the next couple of years. That could give them second thoughts about chasing big-ticket UFAs this summer.  “I don’t think Toronto is going to be able to do that. Unless they look at it like, ‘We’ll do it now and we’ll deal with it later.’ But it’s hard to do that in a cap world,” said Friedman.

Friedman also noted the Leafs will have some salary cap overage issues because some of those young stars will reach bonuses that will come off next season’s cap. He speculated that could make things interesting for winger James van Riemsdyk, who will be eligible next July for unrestricted free agency. Do they keep him and his scoring for next season at the risk of losing him for nothing to free agency next July? Or do they trade him for something they need? 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  As Friedman suggested, the Leafs could opt to pursue someone such as Shattenkirk or Alzner via free agency and deal with the potential salary-cap headache in a year or two. Then again, they could opt for more affordable options or swap some salary via trade to a club with a good young defenseman.

van Riemsdyk’s name popped up earlier this season linking him to the Anaheim Ducks, who have lots of young blueliners and could use a scoring winger if they fail to re-sign pending UFA Patrick Eaves. They could also consider dangling him to the Minnesota Wild or Carolina Hurricanes, as they’re also deep in defensemen.

That’s not to say for certain van Riemsdyk’s a goner, but he’ll be in line for a substantial raise over his current $4.25 million annual cap hit. He also carries a 10-team no-trade clause, which will limit where they can ship him. 


  1. I for one would like JVR to remain a Leaf in the near future! He is an important cog in the wheel and would be hard pressed to replace. He, Bozak deserve to be with this team to potentially win the cup.

    With cap being flat, and TML has shown that youth movement is way of the future.. “funny” how they all say, “play right and the right way” in a lot of interviews I’ve seen!!

    Team will be a year older and better – wiser, experienced and I’m certain that Lou Lamoriello and Brendan Shanahan and company will add pieces that not make us weak to get better..

    No more high prized free agents! The bar has been set on pay scale..Our team has the sexy names now moving forward!

    For the record, I would like TML to target John Carlson..

    • And what are the leafs going to give up to get Carlson?

  2. This is essentially whatever everybody has been saying all along. That the Leafs needs to trade to get a defense man. JVR is the logical candidate for cap reasons. Nothing new here. Yes the cap creates issues that past eras didn’t. But it hasn’t changed the notion that to build a great team in any era you need to add some times through subtraction. The cap has nothing to do with the fact that Anaheim, as an example, may need to address the forward position by trading a defense man and Toronto, as an example, may need to address the defense position by trading a forward. The cap did not influence the overabundance each has in each respective position. The draft did that.

    • Not only is JVR the logical candidate for cap reasons, but in terms of the roster, too. Connor Brown can move up into his spot, and we can either bring up Kasperi Kapanen (or another player from the Marlies) for a third line role.

      Or we can sign a third liner from the UFA pool. Someone such as Kris Versteeg, PA Parenteau, Daniel Winnik (again), Tom Pyatt, Brett Connolly, etc should fit the bill as a checking player with modest scoring.

  3. Leafs will target Hague or Foote in this year’s draft and will need to start drafting the position period. Not sure about the rumoured Zaitstev signing. 7 years at 4+….. I think they will be buying that one out before it is done.

    • I agree silver why on earth would a team risk 7 yrs for a guy that is on the ice for as many goals against as zaitsev is on for? He hasn’t shown much improvement throughout the season either

      • First year in North America, first year in the league, playing high minutes against good players. I think he’ll be a quality player for a long time.
        There are decent prospects on the blue line with the Marlies as well. Still early in the competitive cycle for the Leafs – big week coming up.

      • Because he can actually play. He logs 1st line pairing minutes playing against the leagues best players. 4.5 is chump change for a Dman of this quality. & with each passing year it will seem cheaper & cheaper. He would be 32 when this contract expires. I would consider it a smart signing under value.

        It’s safe to assume this being Zaitsev’s 1st year in the NHL not only is he going to get better but I thin k we all agree so are the Leafs. He also sits 3rd in rookie scoring for D. A #4 Dman gets almost 4 mil in the NHL today. Zaitsev’s better than that now. Goals against or not.

      • Like any term contract there is risk. Zaitsov has only had one season-but down the raod this could be a good contract/or could be a disaster. Duncan Keith signed his before he was a superstar and his contract is a steal.
        Example the other way is the flyers locked up JVR and Matt Read at similar times. JVR contract turned out to be team friendly/Read a terrible overpayment.

      • Have to say I like Zaitsev game, looks good, but I be hesitant to sign a guy long term based on one season. Yes that way of thinking could cost more in the end. But still want more evidence before signing long term.

      • Seriously? My goodness have you watched a lot of the games- he as been fantastic- essentially a rookie. Its a great signing below market value and they bought UFA years

  4. Friedman is incorrect about the Leafs having bonus overages next year. I don’t have the actual wording in front of me but if you look up Article 50.5 d) of the collective agreement it states that teams can spend over the cap on replacements (including salary and bonuses) equal to the amount of LTIR. The Leafs had between 10 and 14 million in LTIR averaged throughout the year that they didn’t use. Even if everyone hits every possible bonus the max is only around 5 million. So there won’t be any bonus overage for next season.

    By the time Matthews and Marner come up for renewal the cap will likely be close to 82 million. It’s projected at 76 for next year and they still have two more likely raises after that before those cap hits take effect. Even if they signed the 3 rookies to long term deals at 7.5, 7 and 6.5 they would still have ample room to sign a Shattenkirk for example at 7 and give JVR a 2 million dollar raise and still fill out the rest of their roster. Martin will likely be taken by Vegas, Komarov and Bozak will be off the books, Fehr will be a memory, they get 2 million from previous buyouts coming off the books after next year, Brown and Hyman will likely be signed to team friendly deals since they’re not eligible for arbitration. Same for Shoshnikov and Kapanen. They still have Liepsic and Rychel and others that can replace guys like Komarov and Martin at a million per. Plus a flood of other prospects to replace those not deemed part of the core if anyone becomes too expensive. Even if they add someone for 7 million The Leafs won’t have cap worries.

    The Leafs planned and offered Stamkos 8.5 million last year and they figured out the math to fit everyone in. Why would they now not be able to offer someone else 7 million? Especially with a 3 million increase in the salary cap expected for next year?

    • That was be a mistake to spend to cap artificial cap number $82 million, don’t know where you got that from? Much of the cap number is based on the Canadian Dollar, quick way for any GM to put his team in financial cap trouble is to spend to a cap that has been confirmed, then to quickly find out they spent several million to much and now have to trim.

      • I think he’s extrapolating it out Caper. It has been increasing 2.5 to 3 mil per season since the Canadian dollar dropped, 76 next season, 79 the season following, 82 etc.. Give or take a mil.

    • Who do you see as Toronto’s protectors for expansion?

      • Not to be picky but last year went up by 2.2%, year before 3.4% and year before 6.8% if anything we see a trend gong down.

      • Coming out of the lock out shortened season 2013-14 the cap was set at 64.3 mil, it went to 69 mil in 2014-15 then the canadian dollar plumeeted setting the cap to 71.4 in 2015-16 to 73 last year. Hadn’t run the %’s will assume your correct as I am 2.5 to 3 mil per season rise baring the NHLPA voting down the escalator.

    • I think Toronto needs Shattenkirk like they need a hole in the head. And ANY GM that spends 7 per on Shattenkirk will basically being putting a hole in their head!

      • I agree Nyr4life. The Leafs top pairing shut down guy. Not another puck carrying guy.

  5. insert “need a” between Leafs and top! Not feeling great today. Sorry.

    • How has zaitsev justified a 7 year extension , playing on a positive playoff team at -21 . Yes he plays big minutes against good players , and he can’t stop any of them . If he wasn’t on the PP he could be -41.

      • +\- is not calculated for the pp. only even strength or short handed goals against.

      • +/- can be argued all day, there’s guys that hate it and love it, I think to base Zaitsev’s performance on +/- and say he’s a – on a + team is beyond shortsighted. Take in the whole picture, watch him play, check his CORSI and WAR #’s, then make a decision.

  6. if zaitsev and Reilly clearly need a pretty good defensive partner , going to be an expensive back end keeping an eye to rookie contracts

    • Cody Franson just went public saying he’d be happy to go back to Toronto, saying he most enjoyed his career there. Not exactly sure he’s the player we need but he could be an affordable upgrade over Hunwick or Marincin.

  7. Just announced no Olympics

    • Friedman said that Bettman wasn’t bluffing and he was still optimistic that the NHL would go. That was Saturday, is this the end of it probably not

  8. Based on the NHLPA announcement Bettman better rethink this if he wants participation in another World Cup.

    In regard to defense Zaitsev and Reilly were the shutdown pair until lately. Now it is Gardner and Zaitsev. Anyone of the three could be on a shutdown pair but the second guy needs to be someone like Manson or Fowler from the Ducks, Dumba or Brodin from the Wild, or Trouba from the Jets. Personally I would like to see them go after Manson and Brodin. Both have a reasonable salary and are solid defensively. Then bring Polak back as your spare. You add two guys to Reilly, Gardner, Zaitsev and Carrick and you got a good defense. I see Carrick as a third pair guy in this.

    Dermott and Neilsen need another year or two to see what they got. Looking at Hague or Foote in the draft makes sense. Hague seems to be falling in some draft lists so he may be available by trading down?

  9. Every team has a need- every single team. They don’t have to address it this off season- that’s media bunk- would they like to improve- sure but its not always possible- so you wait..are we a true contender ..probably not (although I like our chances against anyone in our division). Stay the course, if you can trade JVR for an affordable D – do it, otherwise sit tight- they seem to be ok right now? The plan is 2 to 3 years down the road- not to be short-sighted. Like JVR at 4 plus not at 6.0 as second line winger. Watch the younger players develop. If Nylander Matthews and Marner improve by even 10-15 percent offensively the need for for secondary is minimal – so you have time to develop it. I agree they will target foote maybe another European signing or maybe a surprise trade…but no need to rush anything..way ahead of schedule