James van Riemsdyk‘s time with the Philadelphia Flyers was supposed to end before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, but a rumored move ended up not coming to fruition. Yet, with the Flyers under new management and beginning a legitimate rebuild, it is far more likely than not that the 34-year-old winger will be playing elsewhere in 2023-24.
van Riemsdyk had a bit of a down year for his standards this campaign, as he had 12 goals to go along with 29 points in 61 games. Although his days as a top-six forward may be over, he still has the potential to be a solid addition for teams looking to improve their secondary scoring. There should be a market for him this summer because of this, so let’s look at three likely free-agent destinations for the 2007 second-overall pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs could consider reuniting with van Riemsdyk this offseason. After all, they have several pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) forwards which include Michael Bunting, Alex Kerfoot, Ryan O’Reilly, David Kampf, Noel Acciari, Zach Aston-Reese, and Wayne Simmonds. As a result, Toronto should be in the market for more forward depth this summer, and van Riemsdyk would provide them with just that.
It would not hurt to bring back van Riemsdyk if he is given a third-line role. He would give the Maple Leafs’ bottom six a bit more scoring, and he could be an acceptable option to play top-six minutes when injuries arise throughout the season. With that, the veteran would also be a fine addition to their power play, as he is famous for his excellent net-front presence ability.
With van Riemsdyk’s career likely nearing its final years, it seems quite possible that he would be open to rejoining the Maple Leafs. The would provide him the opportunity to play for a legitimate contender again, and he is still looking for his first Stanley Cup.
The Winnipeg Jets’ season ended in a rather pedestrian fashion, as they were knocked out of the first round in just five games by the Vegas Golden Knights. Some poor play during the final portion of the season almost made them miss the postseason, and a notable reason for their struggles was their lack of secondary scoring. In an attempt to help with changing that, they could look to sign van Riemsdyk to an affordable deal.
The Jets will likely be calling van Riemsdyk this offseason as well. They were one of the handfuls of teams in the mix for his services leading up to the deadline, so they have had a confirmed interest in him. If signed, he would be an excellent addition to their third line. Furthermore, he would provide their power play with a notable spark.
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The Jets need to improve their bottom six if they hope to make a real run next year, so adding a player like van Riemsdyk has the potential to be a worthwhile move for them. A third line of him, Adam Lowry, and Mason Appleton has the potential to be excellent for Winnipeg.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are a team to watch in the van Riemsdyk sweepstakes. General manager (GM) Steve Yzerman clearly likes the player, as the Red Wings and Flyers had a deal in place at the deadline. Although Yzerman opted to back out of the trade at the last minute, adding van Riemsdyk would be a lot easier in the summer because he is set to make far less than $7 million per season on his next contract.
The Red Wings are looking to take that next step and finally become a playoff team again. However, for that to occur, they will need to improve their forward depth. Bringing in van Riemsdyk as a middle-six option would be a great step in doing just that. With that, JvR would be a great mentor for the club’s younger players, as he has an immense amount of NHL experience.
Related: Red Wings’ 2023 Offseason Trade Targets: Calgary Flames
It will be intriguing to see where van Riemsdyk ends up signing from here. I predict that he will land a one-year or two-year contract at a relatively cheap cap hit. We will need to wait and see if one of these three clubs ends up signing him this offseason.