With free agency under two weeks away Chicago Blackhawks fans are wondering what they might be able to do with the increased cap space they find themselves with this season. Many are clamoring from players like John Tavares and John Carlson, two elite players that would definitely make an impact in the Chicago lineup but one major deficit the ‘Hawks faced last season was their power play.
The ‘Hawks lacked the type of player that could finish on the power play and score on rebounds created by Patrick Kane or Alex DeBrincat. At times Artem Anisimov seemed to fill that role on the ‘Hawks power play where he netted 11 of his 20 goals on the power play but injuries and inconsistency hampered his season and went through some major scoring slumps.
Enter a player in free agency who would immediately solidify the ‘Hawks power play and give star Patrick Kane another weapon at his disposal, James Van Riemsdyk. Van Riemsdyk, JVR for short, has been a consistent scorer since he entered the league back in 2009 and in his last 6 seasons with Toronto scored 144 goals, 45 of which came on the power play. He is the type of player who just has an instinct for putting the puck in the net from multiple areas on the ice. JVR is definitely an offensive first type player and in Toronto was constantly criticized for giving up goals while he was on the ice surface something the ‘Hawks at times already struggle with.
Some might also question why sign a wing when the ‘Hawks seem to be deepest at that position with names like DeBrincat, Kane, Saad, Sikura and Hinostroza competing for top six minutes already. However JVR is a different type of forward from that group in that he is a big forward who values himself as a pure goal scorer and would thrive around players like those mentioned above, especially if he were given an opportunity to play with Patrick Kane.
The will be tons of interest in JVR come July 1st as he fits a role in most teams top power play unit and would slot in almost every teams top six forwards. We also have a good idea of his market value given the contract the San Jose Sharks just gave Evander Kane which clocked in at seven years worth $49 million. This is a good barometer for the kind of contract Van Riemsdyk could expect, with him still being in his prime years and putting up his highest goal total, 36, in his career.
There is no doubt JVR will be looking to cash out in his first time as an unrestricted free agent but for the Blackhawks if they can get him at a reasonable term near or maybe a little below the cost of Evander Kane they would be foolish not to pursue him. He would fill a major hole in Chicago’s offense and would bring another weapon to an already dangerous forward group.