James van Riemsdyk: The Toronto Years
Out of Philly and into Toronto, what one could consider the capital city of the NHL, JVR would flourish. Yes, he did sign a six-year $22.5 million contract to play as a Flyer, but after one year on the deal, he was shipped off to Canada.
In Toronto, he flourished. And as the Flyers’ fans were frustrated that the team could do little in the playoffs, all they had to do was look to Ontario and see what he was doing. Eighteen goals in the lockout season of 2012-13. That was followed by a 30-goal performance the following year. In six years in Toronto, he scored 154 goals and topped the 25-goal mark four times.
Thankfully, the Leafs never went too far in the playoffs to really drive that nail deeper into our hearts. But still, you wonder….if he was playing with Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell, and Jakub Voracek….would it have made a difference. Interestingly enough, Philly won five playoff series while JVR was there. In his absence, they couldn’t win a single one.
With the Leafs looking to shed some salary to make a run at other free agents and shake the lineup up a bit, JVR was a casualty. He was now a free agent for the first time.