Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Consider a Reunion With an Old Friend?

Could the second go-around for this former fan favourite be just what the Leafs needed?
Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game One
Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game One / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

In the past, the Toronto Maple Leafs have entertained the idea of bringing back former players to have another go with the team with hopes that they could bring some renewed success as a result. 

For some, like Luke Schenn, they would become a key piece of the puzzle in helping the Toronto Maple Leafs finally overcome their first round playoff woes to get into the second round for the first time in almost two decades.

For others, like Doug Gilmour, their journey unfortunately would come to an unexpected end as he would suffer an injury in the very first game after rejoining the team which ultimately ended his career.

In those cases, both players returned to the club via the trade route. With free agency set to begin just around the corner in about a week’s time, the Maple Leafs now have another opportunity to bring back an old friend by just signing the player without losing any assets. That player is none other than James van Riemsdyk. So should the Leafs complete the reunion?

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Consider a Reunion With an Old Friend in Free Agency?

After all, van Riemsdyk was one of the top offensive contributors on the team back in his prime years with the Leafs. Whether he was flanked by the likes of Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak, and later on even Mitch Marner, van Riemsdyk was a lethal scoring weapon in the Leafs attack. He certainly played some of his best hockey donning a Maple Leafs uniform.

In his six seasons with Toronto, he amassed 154 goals and 140 assists for 294 points in 413 games played. He posted his career highs in goals (36) and points (62) in a season with the Leafs, and more importantly, van Riemsdyk was absolute force on the power play, with 88 of his 294 points coming with the man advantage.

As dominant as the Leafs have been on the power play the past few seasons, they often lacked a net-front presence who wasn’t afraid to be checked to the ground and pounce on a rebound to grab some garbage, yet key goals. That usually became quite apparent when their power play would fail once the playoffs rolled around when the checking and play got more tighter and rougher. (All stats from

With van Riemsdyk being one of the best in the business planting himself in front of the opposing team’s net back in his time with the Leafs, especially with his signature grabbing the puck from the side of the net and shooting between his legs for goals, he could be exactly what the Leafs need to solve their troubles with the man advantage during the playoffs.

Obviously, at the stage of his career right now, one shouldn’t expect a high level of offensive output comparable to his prime years with the team. But if he is deployed properly in the right situations to take advantage of his main strengths, he should be able to provide some 15-20 important goals over the course of the season and playoffs and turn out to be a huge difference maker for the club.


Added to the fact that he just signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Boston Bruins last season, it shouldn’t break the bank if the Leafs intended to pursue the former power forward. Nevertheless, Van Riemsdyk could be a low-risk, high-reward option for the Leafs that could surprisingly take them to the next level. So this potential reunion may ultimately be all worth it.