It appears as though James van Riemsdyk, whose contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs is set to expire, is heading back to where his NHL career began.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, van Riemsdyk is expected to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday when free agency officially opens.
Financial details and term have not been confirmed by the team (because they can’t announce the signing until noon ET Sunday), however ESPN’s John Buccigross is reporting it will be a five-year deal with an average annual salary of $7 million.
The Middletown, N.J., native has had a favourable salary cap hit of $4.25 million in each of the past six seasons and was expected to get a respectable raise.
Earlier on Saturday night, there were rumours circulating that the Arizona Coyotes were among the teams aggressively pursuing van Riemsdyk. The Devils, Sabres, Rangers, Bruins, Blue Jackets and Golden Knights were among the others believed to have expressed serious interest in the forward.
Van Riemsdyk, who was drafted second overall by the Flyers in 2007, is the consensus top winger from the 2018 NHL free agent class after scoring a career-high 36 goals this past season.
The 29-year-old van Riemsdyk has been a valuable member of the Maple Leafs since being acquired in exchange for defenceman Luke Schenn in a 2012 trade with the Flyers.
“I enjoy everything here,” van Riemsdyk said back in April during the Maple Leafs’ locker room clean-out. “This city, this team, all of it has a lot to offer. It’s been great for me, and just having the unwavering support of the fans and the city of Toronto. There’s lots of different emotions there now. Definitely a weird feeling, possibly walking out of here for the last time.”