James van Riemsdyk is ready for two things: A big year, and a lot of awkward questions about trade talk.
Van Riemsdyk, one of the top-scoring left wingers in the NHL last season, was skating Wednesday with most of the Maple Leafs, and a few Marlies, at the MasterCard Centre, preparing for the official openinng of training camp next week.
“With the steps we took last year, we showed things we’re capable of, and now the bar is raised a little bit,” said van Riemsdyk. “It’s up to us to respond to that challenge.”
Van Riemsdyk had 62 points last season — his best season yet. But he’s a free agent, with a salary-cap hit of $4.25 million. It’s believed the 28-year-old is asking in the neighbourhood of $6 million a year for an extension.
Interestingly, that’s about what new Maple Leaf Patrick Marleau earns ($6.25 million annually). Marleau’s arrival could turn van Riemsdyk — in the prime of his career — into trade bait. His name has already come up in trade rumours.
“That’s stuff you can’t worry about as a player,” said van Riemsdyk. “It’s out of your control. I just want to go out there, play, and be a productive member of the team, and hopefully the rest of it figures itself out.”