After Being Traded by Flyers, James Van Riemsdyk Excited for Fresh Start in Toronto
By Tony Ambrogio (@SNTonyAmbrogio)
James van Riemsdyk grew up a fan of baseball’s most popular team. So joining one of the NHL’s most beloved franchises suits him just fine.
“It’s like playing for the New York Yankees of the NHL,” said the newest member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hours after the 2012 NHL draft came to a conclusion, Brian Burke made his boldest move of the off season – trading Luke Schenn to Philadelphia for James van Riemsdyk.
It was a deal that was first discussed during the season and was brought up again Friday when Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and Burke got together in Pittsburgh.
“There’s a lot of great players in Toronto and I’m just hoping to be a piece of the puzzle to help get things going in the right direction,” said van Riemsdyk in a conference call Saturday night.
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, van Riemsdyk will be one of the bigger forwards on the Leafs.
“He brings size, foot speed, and skill,” said Brian Burke. “This is a guy we think can make a difference in our hockey team.”
“This is not a big banger. He uses his size to create offensive opportunities. This is not a guy who will put people through the glass. This is a skill player with size. This is not a black and blue player. This is not a plowhorse; this is a thoroughbred.”
He also brings with him a long injury history- a concussion and broken left foot limited him last season to 43 games (11 G, 13 A).
The second overall pick in 2007 has 47 goals and 52 assists for 99 points in 196 regular-season games. He was also the name most often mentioned when talk turned to the Flyers making a trade.
“Early in the year, you hear these rumours. I’m lucky enough to have a good support system around,” said van Riemsdyk. “I think I learned a lot going through those different injury issues. I think it’s made me a better person and player. I’ve learned to deal with adversity and it will only help me in the long run.”
Van Riemsdyk can play on the wing or centre, although Burke made it clear he sees him on the wing.
“I ensivion him mostly on the wall,” Burke told a Saturday night conference call. “From my perspective we are not big enough. He’s a big body with skill and those players are hard to find.”
With the Leafs, van Riemsdyk will certainly get a greater opportunity to live up to his potential as he is all but a lock to be a top-6 forward in Toronto. That wasn’t a certainty in Philadelphia.
It’s easy to see why van Riemsdyk said he was “excited” about joining Toronto.