As the NHL trade deadline approaches, there's uncertainty in Toronto as to whether forward James van Riemsdyk will remain with the Maple Leafs for the balance of the regular season and into the playoffs.
The 28-year-old winger can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and the Leafs have to decide whether to flip him prior to the deadline or hold on and allow him to hit the open market in the offseason.
For head coach Mike Babcock, the situation isn't cut and dry.
"I don't think anything is an easy decision," Babcock said Tuesday after a 1-0 win over Florida in which van Riemsdyk scored the lone goal. "We've talked about this a bunch, you always have this plan but your plan can always change.
"It depends on what people want. There's lots of times you're going through and not planning on doing anything and you end up doing something. We don't really know, in the end, what's available and what we could pursue either."
The game-winner gave Van Riemsdyk 25 goals, putting him on pace for a new career high. He's averaging only 14:35 of ice time, though, his lowest as a Maple Leaf. On top of that, Toronto is allowing 34.2 shots per game, and could certainly use help on the blue line.
At the end of the day, Babcock believes general manager Lou Lamoriello will do whatever he deems to be in the best interest of winning.
"The way I look at it is, instead of worrying about that stuff, you just keep playing good and give ourselves the best opportunity," he said. "Then, whatever is best for our team, Lou will do."
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