Has waiting on a JvR trade increased his value?
Whether by design or coincidence, it’s possible that delaying a trade of James van Riemsdyk could net a higher return in light of recent trades. Where might he land?
What a weekend, huh? The New Jersey Devils acquired Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks, solidifying their top six for this playoff push and—if they get an extension done—for years to come. For being a team a year ahead of schedule for contention, that is a statement trade that the Devils will be a Cup threat for the foreseeable future—and they gave up practically nothing to do it.
Not to be outdone, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired Tanner Jeannot from the Nashville Predators for a seemingly ludicrous number of draft picks. Jeannot will likely follow in the footsteps of last year’s Nick Paul deal, with Tampa locking up a depth piece for a long time.
Factor in the trades of Ryan O’Reilly & Noel Acciari to the Leafs, Dmitry Orlov & Garnet Hathaway to Boston, and Vladimir Tarasenko & Niko Mikkola to the Rangers (and what seems to be an imminent Patrick Kane trade), and five of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference have made all-in moves that turn their rosters into juggernauts. That doesn’t even account for Bo Horvat going to the Islanders! The only team that hasn’t made a move yet is Carolina, but it seems only a matter of time. Getting through the East is going to be a goddamn gauntlet.
So where does that leave one James van Riemsdyk? JvR is a good player, but he doesn’t move the needle the way any of those blockbusters do. However, at this rate, he might be the last impact, pure-rental forward on the market—and Flyers management should recognize that. Given the return on Tanner Jeannot in particular, who’s likely a middle-6 depth piece at best, the cost to acquire JvR should go up. Granted, a Jeannot extension is almost a given while a JvR extension is not, but it’s still worth examining. A second round pick and a solid prospect doesn’t sound as ridiculous as it might have last week—a first rounder might not even be out of the question.
One thing that seems certain? JvR’s landing spot will not be in the East, barring some insane cap gymnastics by contending teams or a weird push by one of the bubble playoff teams. He just doesn’t move the needle enough relative to what the rest of the conference is doing, and even at 50% retention would have an AAV of $3.5 million. Besides, how would JvR help Carolina match up against a loaded Rangers forward core, for example? It just doesn’t make sense; Toronto’s acquisition of O’Reilly—a defensive center—is an explicit counter to matchup with the Lightning’s dynamic top lines, as it looks like those two teams are destined to meet in the first round once again.
Out West, however? With a slightly easier road to the Cup, JvR’s depth scoring and powerplay prowess become much more valuable. He’s been linked to the Wild, the Jets, the Stars, and maybe even Vegas—however, some of these teams have already made equivalent acquisitions. The Jets picked up Nino Niederreiter from Nashville (the Preds have made out like bandits this week, huh?), and the Stars picked up Evegenii Dadonov from the Canadiens. Those moves may have closed off a deal with the Flyers, which leaves the Wild the most likely landing spot.
It works out well for the Wild, too: they have a fair bit of cap space this season and have used it to broker other blockbuster trades. Next year, though, they’re in trouble as they have to deal with larger buyout penalties—a pure rental trade to shore up their secondary scoring seems like a no-brainer, and JvR fits perfectly (he spends his off seasons around there, too). The Wild have many of their draft picks, and the best prospect pool in the league. Jordan Greenway’s name has been batted around as a reclamation project and, after the success Owen Tippett has had given time to actually play, that might not be too bad.
Given how much contenders are giving up before even getting players on extensions, was seeing how the market shook out the plan all along? The Flyers front office has a real opportunity to net a decent return for a JvR trade—which is quite a different story from how the market was shaping up just a few days ago. It’s just a matter of whether they can accomplish it or not, and whether this was the plan all along.