Strong Olympics Performance Could Make Toronto Maples Leafs' James van Riemsdyk's Career Year Even More Special

By Michael Roberts
van Riemsdyk
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After already breaking his previous career-high for goals and points with the Toronto Maple LeafsJames van Riemsdyk could continue his impressive season with a strong showing on Team USA at the Olympics.

The Maple Leafs’ forward has already passed the career-high totals he posted in the 2010-11 season when he finished with 21 goals and 40 points in 75 games. When van Riemsdyk boarded a plane to Sochi, Russia, he had already recorded 24 goals and 47 points in only 58 games.

The 6-foot-3 winger is playing on one of the best lines in the NHL, as he’s formed an impressive chemistry with Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak on the Maple Leafs’ top-line. The trio has been limited in their time together this season, as Bozak has struggled with injuries. However, when the trio has been together, opponents haven’t been able to find a way to contain them.

Van Riemsdyk is headed to the Olympics on somewhat of a hot streak, as he’s begun 2014 by recording 18 points in the 19 games he’s played in the New Year. In his previous seven games leading up to the Olympic break, van Riemsdyk produced eight points with a plus/minus rating of plus-six.

What has made van Riemsdyk so successful this season has been his improved skating ability, determination to dominate in front of the opposition’s net, and his underrated defensive play. There isn’t any situation Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is afraid to use van Riemsdyk in, as he’s played top-line power-play minutes, he’s killed penalties, and he’s averaging the second most ice-time for Toronto forwards with 20:42 per game, which is only one second less than Bozak, who leads Toronto’s forwards with 20:43 per game.

Considering van Riemsdyk is likely to play with Kessel on Team USA, the Americans should have one line with instant chemistry. The Maple Leaf wingers have learned to play off each other so well that it’s resulted in the duo routinely setting each other up with scoring opportunities. There have been numerous blind passes between the two, resulting in goals that have made everybody in the building wonder how the passer knew where his teammate was on the ice. If van Riemsdyk and Kessel are able to carry their Toronto chemistry over to Team USA, it’ll be hard to imagine them leaving Russia without a medal.

If the Americans are able to capture a medal, it’ll only continue to add on to the career season van Riemsdyk is already having.

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