August 8, 2017, 6:04 PM ET [194 Comments]
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The odds of a significant trade occurring throughout the NHL between now and the beginning of next month are remote, mostly because clubs want to take a look at the roster in training camp and see if they can remedy their issues internally before embarking on the risky path of making a deal.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were unable to accomplish what many observers believed what was their main goal over the summer, which was to add a top-four defenseman.
GM Lou Lamoriello went more in the direction of a temporary solution on the blueline with the signing of 36-year-old Ron Hainsey on a two-year deal, but made his big move by adding veteran left winger Patrick Marleau to an already stockpiled position.
After the signing, the assumption was that the 37-year-old would be the replacement for James van Riemsdyk as the primary offensive left- winger, who would be traded at some point before the start of the regular season.
While there appears to have been the willingness to move the 28-year-old All-Star (who was reportedly included in a trade offer for Travis Hamonic), the chances are slim that the Leafs getting full value for van Riemsdyk before the season begins.
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Teams will begin to look for solutions around American Thanksgiving, when a quarter of the NHL season has passed and things will continue to ramp up leading up to the trade deadline.
Toronto has three options when it comes to van Riemsdyk. They can keep him the entire season and let him walk as an unrestricted free agent, they can re-sign him to a contract extension or they can make a trade before the deadline to get some assets for an expiring contract.
The first option is possible, because the signings of Marleau, Hainsey and Dominic Moore are indicative of a team that wants to compete now, but the Leafs would be allowing a valuable asset to leave that could bring a king’s ransom at the deadline.
Option 2 is the least likely, since extending van Riemsdyk would cost at least $6 Million AAV on a contract of at least five-to-seven years and the odds of that kind of lengthy commitment are slim with new contracts of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander on the horizon.
At 29 years old, this could be the final chance for van Riemsdyk to hit the jackpot and hometown discounts and short-term deals are pure fantasy.
A deal of some sort continues to be the most probable outcome, since established 25-30 goal scorers usually bring a king’s ransom at the deadline. If Toronto not in the playoff race at the deadline, the decision to move van Riemsdyk is less complicated.
Even if the Leafs are in playoff contention, Lamoriello could still pull the trigger to get a high draft pick or top prospect in return and then deal for a rental or call up one of Toronto’s many wing prospects to take over van Riemsdyk’s spot in the top six.