Wayne Simmonds is the heart and soul of the Philadelphia Flyers. He has become a staple on the wing for the Orange and Black over the past several years. He brings the energy, skill, grit, and heart needed on a nightly basis, even when his body is begging him to stop. Some would say that he is priceless.
On that note, Simmonds’ price has been and will be a topic of discussion surrounding the Flyers until they address it via an extension or trade, or until next summer when his contract expires. He is a key cog on the current roster, but the influx of young talent combined with the hefty price tag for the winger could spell trouble.
The mere idea of trading Simmonds was unthinkable a few years ago, but that slowly crept into the thought process this past season. He had a “down” year with 24 goals and 46 points in 75 games, but he did so playing through several painful injuries. If he can put up those numbers while injured, he’s still very capable of scoring 30 goals when healthy.
Elliotte Friedman brought up Wayne Simmonds in his most recent 31 Thoughts column on Sunday. He first mentioned T.J. Oshie, who played a big role and a physical game for the Stanley Cup winning Washington Capitals.
Oshie signed his eight-year extension last summer at age 30 and rewarded the Capitals with an impactful season.
He was a physical force in the final, with his Forsberg-esque reverse hits taking a toll on Colin Miller in particular.
When you think physical force, you think Wayne Simmonds.
“Seeing that makes you wonder the impact it will have on Wayne Simmonds’ future,” Friedman said. “The powerful winger played hurt, still scored 24 goals and turns 30 in August. He’s also one year away from free agency.”
Simmonds is a prototypical Flyer, and a player that you hate to play against (in a good way), but would love on your team.
Simmonds is a great teammate – the only complaint I’ve ever heard about him is that he can’t put on weight, a problem I’d love to have.
In a sporting world that’s becoming more and more ageist, Oshie’s performance is good news for comparables like Simmonds.
Oshie and Simmonds aren’t exactly similar players on the ice, but their contract situations do nearly mirror one another. Oshie was thriving in his late-20s, much like Simmonds. He headed into his age-30 season in the last year of a contract carrying around a $4 million cap hit, just like Simmonds. Oshie came away with a pay day of $46 million over eight years as the Capitals extended him before he hit free agency last June.
Simmonds and Oshie also have pretty comparable numbers in their late-20s. Simmonds has averaged 53 points a season over the past three years, which is just below Oshie’s 55 points per season in his age 27-29 seasons. Simmonds, however, averaged more goals than Oshie: 29 to 22.
Oshie put up 56 points (33 goals, 23 assists) in just 68 games in his contract year, which is this season coming up for Simmonds. If he continues on his average of 25+ goals and 50+ points, he’ll be deserving of a contract comparable to, or more than, Oshie’s.
One of the differences between Oshie and Simmonds is that Oshie was traded to Washington, the team that extended him, midway through his career, while Simmonds has been a Flyer for the past seven seasons. I feel like a “hometown discount” is something thrown around by fans and the media more than it is put into practice, but it’s worth mentioning here for a guy that loves this team and city.
The Flyers are going to need to keep their options open with Simmonds. Ron Hextall has shown that he can extend players to team-friendly contracts (Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere last summer), but he hasn’t had to make a decision quite like this one just yet. This summer Simmonds could be re-signed as a piece of the veteran core, which would be preferable of they can get a team-friendly deal, traded to help solidify the budding core, or play the season out as a pending free agent, which is the most likely option.
A contract similar to the ones signed recently by comparable forwards would not be a smart move by the Flyers at this point. Oshie is just one of a handful of forwards that have gotten overpaid recently. Just last month Evander Kane signed a seven year, $49 million extension with the San Jose Sharks. He’s a bit younger, but that’s a pretty penny. Patric Hornqvist got a five-year, $26.5 million ($5.3 million AAV) extension in February, which is a bit more reasonable but perhaps a year or two too long for Simmonds.
The good news is that Simmonds is under contract for this season and should be able to help the Flyers one way or another. He has been mentioned in trade rumors in the past, and it’s no surprise that he is sought after by other teams. If the Flyers can’t negotiate a reasonable extension, they have the option to trade him this offseason or even at the deadline if they see fit.
Oshie’s contract and success could both sway the Flyers in different ways. While the contract is more than they want to give out, his success this season (18 goals, 47 points in regular season; 21 points in 24 playoff games) supports the “re-signing veterans is worth it” argument.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with Simmonds. It would be great to see him in orange and black for the rest of his career, but the Flyers can’t overpay to make that happen.
Photo by Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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