We all saw it coming. We braced for it. As the Philadelphia Flyers prepared to trade Wayne Simmonds, we prepared to say goodbye to a fan favorite, the prototypical Flyer, a Philadelphia Flyer at heart.
Simmonds was brought in as one of a few pieces in return for the Flyers’ then-star players, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. He quickly ingratiated himself to the Philadelphia faithful due to his hard-nosed style of play, never-give-up attitude, and willingness to leave everything on the ice.
As the 3 p.m. trade deadline inched closer on Monday afternoon, the anxious Flyers fans waited to hear the latest piece of information on the Wayne Train. After a fitting Stadium Series performance, emotional postgame happenings and his absence on the ice for practice on Monday morning, the writing on the wall became clearer. As much as we hoped he’d be a Flyer forever, Wayne Simmonds was going to be traded.
But three o’clock came and went, and Simmonds was still a member of the Philadelphia Flyers — or so we thought. Just as the city of Philadelphia began to breathe a sigh of relief, disaster struck. A few minutes after 3 p.m. we learned that Simmonds was heading to the Nashville Predators.
It was the Flyers’ first meaningful deadline deal in what seemed like years. Sure the Flyers parted ways with Mark Streit in 2017, but not since 2015 and the departure of Kimmo Timonen had Philadelphia been dealt such a blow. Timonen went on to win the Stanley Cup with Chicago, here’s to hoping that Simmonds can do the same thing in Nashville.
A trade like this simply feels unfair to fans. The city was in love with Wayne Simmonds, and Wayne Simmonds was in love with Philadelphia. It’s not fair to take Simmonds from us. But all good things must come to an end.
With all of the emotion surrounding Simmonds’ departure, the return for the power forward was merely an afterthought — until it wasn’t. The Flyers came down from their reported asking price of a first-round pick and a prospect and got a different package.
They acquired Ryan Hartman and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020 that will become a third-round pick if Nashville wins a playoff round this year, which seems likely. Hartman is a 24-year-old forward that was a first-round pick in 2013 and was traded from Chicago to Nashville for a first-round pick last deadline. He showed potential in Chicago with a 19-goal season in his rookie year (2016-17) but has just 21 goals since then. He is a pesky player that plays an in-your-face style of hockey.
Hartman will likely fill in as a solid third-line winger with a possibility to grow into a second-line role. He is a restricted free agent after this season.
It wasn’t quite what many expected. This wasn’t a top prospect or a first-round pick. And this is what we got for Wayne Simmonds? The perennial 30-goal scorer that is impossible to play against?
While the latter half of that is true — Simmonds is still a menace on the ice — he has lost a touch in the scoring department, particularly outside of the power play. He’s still one of (if not the) the best net-front presences in the league, but he isn’t what he once was.
This isn’t to say that Simmonds could’ve fetched more in return, or that the Flyers maybe should’ve kept him to try to make a run toward the playoffs.
He still has 16 goals in 62 games this season (on pace for 21 over a full 82-game season), but has just 11 assists to total 27 points. That’s an 82-game pace of just under 36 points, which would be his lowest full-season total since his days in L.A.
While the emotions definitely play a factor, and for good reason, we can’t overlook the trade deadline market and see that the Flyers actually got seemingly fair value for a player of Simmonds’ caliber this season.
Simmonds was thought, by some, to be the 1B to Mark Stone’s 1A at the deadline. But Stone is four years younger and is producing at over a point-per-game rate. The Flyers weren’t going to get close to the package that Ottawa received for Stone, which was quite a hefty price paid by the Golden Knights.
Another “comparable,” Kevin Hayes, fetched a roster player and a first-round pick. However, he can play down the middle and is scoring at a much higher rate.
Other forwards traded around the deadline include Mats Zuccarello, Gustav Nyquist, Mikael Granlund, Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and Derick Brassard. Granlund and Coyle are under contract through 2020, while the rest are rentals.
Zuccarello and Nyquist, both of whom have around 0.80 points per game this season (compared to Simmonds’ 0.44), fetched a second-round pick and third-round pick. The Flyers got Hartman and a likely third-round pick for Simmonds.
Johansson was also traded right at the deadline, like Simmonds, and the Devils received a 2019 second-round pick and 2020 fourth-round pick for him. Once again, similar to the Flyers’ package.
Brassard, who has lost a step and is slightly behind Simmonds this season, was traded for just a 2020 third-round pick, and the Panthers included their own 2020 sixth-round pick in the deal.
That leaves Granlund and Coyle, both of whom were traded from Minnesota and have a year left on their contracts.
Granlund, a forward, was also traded to Nashville prior to the deadline. The Wild received Kevin Fiala in return, who the Flyers could’ve possibly had their eye on in a Simmonds deal. Fiala is two years younger than Hartman and has a higher ceiling, but he has struggled recently.
Coyle was traded to Boston last week for Ryan Donato and a conditional fifth-round pick that becomes a fourth if Boston wins a playoff round. That’s not a bad return for a player that has put up nearly identical numbers to Simmonds this season, but has a worse track record. Donato has fit in well with Minnesota with three goals and an assist in three games.
Looking at all of the above forwards and their production this season, the Flyers got fair market value for Simmonds.
It’s a trade that’s tough to swallow. We knew it would be. It’s fair to be upset about trading Simmonds. He was born to be a Flyer. However, the return that Chuck Fletcher received was market value for Simmonds.
Simmonds got to go out on his terms, on the biggest stage and he went out with a bang. The timing of the Stadium Series game may have impacted the trade talks, as it would’ve been hard to see Simmonds go before the outdoor game unless Fletcher was overwhelmed by an offer. That opened a two-day window to trade Simmonds, and it came down to the final minutes.
Wayne Simmonds will always be a Flyer. He will receive a huge ovation when he inevitably returns to the Wells Fargo Center. It will likely be with his new team after he receives his well-deserved payday this offseason, but the door will always be open for him to return to the Flyers.
It’s a trade like this that can both be fair and unfair at the same time. The business side of things was fair: the Flyers received value for a player that will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Unfortunately, the emotional side of things tells a different story: it was unfair to see Simmonds traded and it will be weird to see him in any other jersey.
Thanks for everything, Simmer, and let’s go Predators.