Is James van Riemdyk the answer at centre for desperate Toronto Maple Leafs?

It is a short-term move born out of desperation. And yet, it is a move that has been in the works for a long time, at least since the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired James van Riemsdyk more than 16 months ago.

Make no mistake, the decision to move van Riemsdyk from the wing to the centre is only happening because Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland are both out with long-term injuries, and the team really has no other options. But if necessity is the mother of invention, then perhaps this can be the start of something bigger.

Maybe the Leafs, who toyed with the idea of playing van Riemsdyk down the middle a year ago, will fluke upon something here. Maybe the 24-year-old, who has evolved into the player that the Philadelphia Flyers hoped he would be when they selected him second overall in 2007, will become the No. 1 centre Toronto has been searching for.

“I’m just looking to play where the team wants me to play. Wing, centre, defence, whatever,” said van Riemsdyk, who is unsure of how this experiment will unravel. “I don’t think this was part of the master plan.”

27 Responses to Is James van Riemdyk the answer at centre for desperate Toronto Maple Leafs?

  1. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    As I have said many times, I think JVR could be the centre we have been waiting for. He has size, speed and has developed great chemistry with Kessel. This could be a bit of a blessing in disguise as now we have no choice but to try him there. What if JVR shows he has potential down the middle? JVR, Kadri, Bolland, McClement would make us pretty good down the middle. Lupul, Kessel, Clarkson, Raymond, Kulimen makes the wings pretty strong. Maybe Bozak could convert to the wing. If JVR can play centre, it opens up the option of even moving Kadri to the wing or for a very good return via trade.

  2. doorman says:

    I guess he could be the answer but i don’t think so. I say this as every player says the same ole same ole, I will play wherever I am needed. However when a player is asked about playing centre and refers to themselves as a natural winger it raises to me the question of if they can.

    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

      Agreed doorman, he has to accept the role and give full effort. I was more referring to the fact that he has all the tools you would look for in a number 1 centre. But Yes, if he doesn’t really want to, then it probably won’t work.

  3. mapleleafsfan says:

    Just a thought, but what would you guys think of playing Liles, and sliding Gardiner to forward through these injuries? He was originally a forward, has great instincts and good speed. Could add to the wing depth now JVR’s in the middle.

  4. leafy says:

    Should Reimer for Yakupov be back on the table?

    Problem is Yakupov is a winger.

    • LN91 says:

      No, Yakupov in the long-run…Really does not help the Leaf’s cause unless you deal him for a #1C.

      However, if Strome for Reimer is on the table, since NYI needs a starting goalie to play with that very good squad they’re building…That should be heavily considered by the Leafs.

      • doorman says:

        I would want more then Strome as Reimer is proven and Strome while a great prospect, is still a prospect.

        • mapleleafsfan says:

          You won’t get more than Strome unfortunately. Schneider was valued very highly throughout the league, and only returned the 9th pick. Strome was a 5th overall, and is ligthing up the AHL (sure it’s the AHL, but he’s dominated every league he’s been in which is a promising sign).

          I doubt he’d even be on the table for Reimer.

      • mapleleafsfan says:

        I’d do it for Strome in a second. Decent size, lighting up the AHL, good potential. I’d make that move for sure.

        We’re in a pretty good spot where several teams are in demand for goalies, and not many teams have two starters.

        I don’t think the Isles would offer Strome for Reimer, but if they did you gotta take it.

        • mapleleafsfan says:

          Also another Toronto boy which is solid.

        • LN91 says:

          Good start to the AHL season…

          14 points in 9 games. He should have made the Islanders this season, but NYI has been very cautious about their development since all the unrealistic expectations for Nino (who has been solid in Minny), Okposo, and Josh Bailey at an early age.

          Good for them though, it has been paying off. I really like Tavares, Strome, and Brock Nelson, and Hamonic…Also, they’re handling Griffin Reinhart withe extreme care as well.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      I don’t think the Oilers would pay that much for a goalie. Unfortunately goalies just don’t return crazy packages.

      Personally I would do that deal in a heart beat. I love Reimer, but Yakupov was a first round pick 1 year ago. I can’t believe how much people think his stock has fallen. Get that guy on a good team and he’ll blow up. Sure he might be bad defensively, but who isn’t on the oilers? It doesn’t help when your goalie can’t stop a beach ball and their system is pretty suspect right now. If a Yak for Reimer trade is available (which I really don’t think it is), you make it. Then if you want a Center you can look at flipping one of your wingers for one.

      Considering Yak has potential higher than Kessels, I’d think of it like this: Is there any goalie in the league you would trade Kessel for? Probably not. Sure “potential” is the key word, but Yak was in the running for the Calder last year and on a 52 pt pace as a rookie (if it was a full season). On a very mediocre Oilers team those are great numbers.

      Yak was the only player than stood out last time we played the Oilers, and the only one still going hard out there for that team. He’s getting criminally underrated.

      Also think if JVR works out at Center.

      Lupul – JVR – Kessel
      Yak – Kadri – Clarkson
      Kuley – Bolland – Raymond
      McLaren – McClement – Orr

      Sign me up.

      • leafs_wallace93 says:

        First of all, yes to trading Riemer for Yakupov or Strome.

        The Yakupov talks reminds me of people harping on Ovie when he started slow last season, if these types of trade windows arise you take them.

        Yaks having more potential than Kessel? Based on what? Kessel was projected as a 1st round pick the year before his draft year and was considered a steal for Boston at 5th overall in an amazing draft class (Kessel was drafted behind Johnson, J.Stall, Toews, Backstrom).

        Kessel was traded for two 1st and a 2nd. Yakupov was the head of a weak draft class and if this deal happened would be traded for a goaltender. How is he potentially better than Kessel?

        • LN91 says:

          Agree with most of it, but that 2012 class could come out one of the better ones in history.

          Galchenyuk has been unreal, Ryan Murray has been solid for CLB and we’ve already seen the great potential Morgan Reilly has.

        • leafs_wallace93 says:

          Meant to say Kessel was projected as a 1st overall pick.

        • mapleleafsfan says:

          Honestly, I was just going off of Hockey’s future ratings of them. Can’t remember far enough back to know Kessel’s hype but it’s 8.5C to 9C. Either way, even if they were even in potential the point is the same. For that potential skill you make the move.

          • leafs_wallace93 says:

            Yeah, I agree I’m just nit picking but if we could land Storme for Reimer, really would give us a legitimate chance of becoming a complete contending roster over the next couple of years. With the cap rising each season, Clarkson and Liles cap hit become manageable.

            Hell, flip Bozak for a draft pick after Bolland comes back. We’re that close to being legit IMO.

            • doorman says:

              I understand why everyone says this about Strome and he is a great prospect. When I say I would want more for Reimer I am not saying we would get it, but that he is IMO more value to us right now then Strome. We have a very enviable duo in net, there is no drop. Two starters who at this point are working well together will get us more wins then Ryan Strome.

              • mapleleafsfan says:

                Can’t argue with that; we have a good situation every time either of our goalies is in net.

                I think it’s becoming a pretty opportune time to make a move though. There are several teams with shaky starters, mainly the Isle and Edmonton, and there aren’t a whole lot of goalies available that are young/good (to fit into a more long-term plan). If we wait too long, those teams might be completely out of the picture, and willing to wait for the offseason where there are potential UFAs: Lundqvist (unlikely), Miller, Hiller, Brodeur, Halak (unlikely), Thomas etc.

                If we have a good shot to grab a top prospect (or even better a potential 1C), I think you have to go for it. It may mean we lose a couple more games playing a worse backup once every 10 games, but if it means locking down the C position it’s worth it long run IMO.

                The leafs are really only a 1C away from being really, really competitive. We likely won’t be drafting high enough any time soon to grab a good C, so we gotta take advantage of the extra assets we do have while their value is it’s highest.

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