The Colorado Avalanche are a train-wreck, which means that everyone not named Nathan MacKinnon is in the rumor mill. The Toronto Maple Leafs should be paying close attention.
The biggest name from Colorado in the rumor mill is Gabriel Landeskog, a point-producing winger. This is a scenario the Toronto Maple Leafs should be keeping tabs on.
The most noticeable difference between Landeskog and van Riemsdyk is that Landeskog fights from time to time. If you’ve been paying attention to the NHL for the last several years you’ll have noticed that fighting means less and less with each tick of the clock.
Let’s take a quick look at a few things from the last two seasons (2015/16-present) that actually have an impact on the game.
The only category where Landeskog takes the edge is in relative goals-for percentage at 5v5, by a 0.15 difference – nearly insignificant given everything else.
Concerned about the defensive side of things over the last two seasons? When Landeskog is on the ice, the Avalance allow 2.28 less shot attempts against per 60 minutes at 5v5. When James van Reimsdyk is on the ice, the Leafs allow 2.77 less shot attempts against per 60 minutes at 5v5. Advantage, JVR.
Landeskog also comes in with a salary cap hit of ~$5.57M for an extra four years, compared to van Riemsdyk’s $4.25M cap hit for one season beyond this year. It’s worth noting that Landeskog is three years younger than van Riemsdyk, though.
If a team is looking to acquire top-six forward help for a run this year and next, it’s a pretty simple decision. James van Riemsdyk is the best option. Landeskog is a younger player (24 to JVR’s 27), but costs more and produces less, making the Toronto Maple Leafs forward a more valuable trade asset to a competitive team.
All signs point to Landeskog being the more likely to be dealt, which means the Toronto Maple Leafs will be able to gauge the low-end of the market for their own top-six winger.
If the Avalanche deal Landeskog prior to the trade deadline, the return could also hint at whether or not the Leafs will hang on to van Riemsdyk for the rest of the season. A low return for Colorado – and it can’t be ruled out given how bad of a GM Joe Sakic is – likely means the trade the Leafs don’t have to make won’t get made.
Regardless of whether or not James van Riemsdyk is going to be on the move, a Gabriel Landeskog deal should provide insight into the bare minimum the Leafs can expect to get back in a hypothetical trade.