Toronto Maple Leafs: Why James van Riemsdyk Will Excel This Season in Toronto

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIJanuary 29, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Toronto Maple Leafs yells against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on January 23, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

James van Riemsdyk's first five games as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs have been impressive.

In fact, van Riemsdyk is actually tied for the team lead in goals scored, with three to start the young (and shortened) season.

In just 15 minutes of ice time per game, van Riemsdyk has made his presence felt, whether he's been playing alongside the resurgent Nazem Kadri on Toronto's third line, or with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin on Toronto's second offensive unit.

Leafs fans shouldn't necessarily expect JvR to continue to average a goal in 60 percent of Toronto's remaining games, but they should also understand that this is the season that van Riemsdyk could have his breakout year.

For starters, JvR will be relied upon more in Toronto to provide offense than he was as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, even if he's still playing on Toronto's third line (which won't be happening for a while, as Joffrey Lupul isn't expected to return for another few weeks).

This is also a kid who was selected second overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft, which should tell fans just how good he can be.

While 2007's draft wasn't loaded with talent and did prove to have more than its fair share of busts (see Thomas Hickey and Zach Hamill), when one is taken second overall in a draft, it means they're one talented player.

At 6'3" and 190 pounds, van Riemsdyk is also a bigger forward, which is exactly the type of forward that Randy Carlyle loves to coach and the type of guy that thrives in a Carlyle system.

While JvR may not be overly physical, he is still a guy who can be effective on the forecheck and use his size to win battles down low, which is much of what Carlyle looks for.

Combine all of that with a new environment and fresh start in Toronto and you've got one heck of a recipe as far as James van Riemsdyk is concerned.

While his current rate of production may not be sustainable (notching a point in 80 percent of games on a team's second or third line just isn't all that realistic—that averages out to nearly 66 points in an 82-game season), fans can expect to see JvR continue to succeed in Toronto and give this team a much-needed boost.