Toronto Maple Leafs: All Eyes on James van Riemsdyk and Goaltending in 2013

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Toronto Maple Leafs: All Eyes on James van Riemsdyk and Goaltending in 2013
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Well hockey fans, perhaps there will be a season in 2013 after all.

With negotiations ongoing at the NHL headquarters in New York City, and the NHLPA allowing the deadline to file a disclaimer of interest to pass, it's possible that the two sides are fairly close to reaching a deal.

Should a deal come together in the next few days and some part of the season ends up being saved, Toronto Maple Leafs fans will surely be anxious to see how their favorite team will fare in 2013.

After missing the postseason every year since the 2003-04 NHL season, anything short of a postseason appearance in 2013 would most likely be considered a disappointment among most fans.

But in order to for the Maple Leafs to clinch one of the Eastern Conference's playoff spots they'll need to see some improvement in the crease and from their secondary scorers.

On the goaltending front, most Leafs fans should know about the struggles of both Jonas Gustavsson (now with the Detroit Red Wings) and James Reimer.

Last season, Gustavsson was barely able to keep his goals against average below 3.00 (he finished with a 2.92 GAA) and his save percentage above .900 (.902 was his save percentage last season).

Reimer, who looked great before suffering a head injury early in the season in a game against the Montreal Canadiens, finished with a 3.10 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.

If the Leafs are to make a run at the postseason in 2013, Reimer's numbers will certainly have to improve.

Fans should keep a close eye on where Reimer plays in his crease.

When he was playing well, he'd come out and challenge opponents, as opposed to playing deep in his net, and seemed to be much more apprehensive.

As far as secondary scoring goes, Leafs fans should pay close attention to new-comer James van Riemsdyk.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Having players like Tim Connolly and Matthew Lombardi step up their game would be nice, but isn't nearly as important as they'll both be free agents at the end of the season.

Van Riemsdyk, on the other hand, figures to be part of the Leafs' long-term plans seeing as he's signed for the foreseeable future, at a fairly hefty price tag no less.

James van Riemsdyk does fit the style of both GM Brian Burke and current head coach Randy Carlyle, as a big, physical forward who is also gifted offensively.

The fact that he is signed through 2018 at an annual cap hit of $4.25 million is somewhat concerning, though, since his production in the offensive zone hasn't been what the Flyers were expecting when they drafted him second overall in 2007 and then awarded him with the long-term, expensive contract.

In three NHL seasons up to this point, van Riemsdyk has just 99 points in 196 games, barely good enough to eclipse the 0.5 points per game mark.

To top that off, van Riemsdyk will be coming off a concussion that he sustained last season.

Trading for James van Riemsdyk was a high-risk, high-reward kind of proposition.

This season, all eyes will be watching as he suits up for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

 

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