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Flyers Notes: Estimating Wayne Simmonds' next contract; early edge for Brian Elliott?

The Boston Bruins and right winger David Pastrnak agreed on a six-year, $40 million contract Thursday that comes with an average annual value of $6.67 million. The 21-year-old just completed a career-best season that saw him score 34 goals with 36 assists for 70 points in 75 games. The Bruins are hoping the incredibly skilled Pastrnak, who was a restricted free agent, has only scratched the surface at the NHL level.

Following this season, Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds will be eligible to sign a new pact with the organization prior to becoming a free agent in 2019. Teammates Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek both agreed to contract extensions in July heading into their respective contract years. 

Instead of evaluating Simmonds with analytics that don't cut to the core of his real value, let’s simply judge him as a consistent goal scorer. Judging Simmonds on a goal-per-game basis would disguise his real value, so let’s look at his production by minutes played since he doesn’t see the ice time of other wingers like Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane or Corey Perry. While he obviously doesn’t possess the skill set as the aforementioned superstars, you may be surprised how frequent Simmonds scores goals in relation to other players at his position. 

Since joining the Flyers in 2011-12, Simmonds has amassed 163 goals in his six seasons in orange and black. For Simmonds, that’s one goal for every 46.60 minutes of ice time. How does that stack up to other right wingers in the league?

Goals per minute played among RW since 2011-12
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) - goal/40.29
Nikita Kucherov (TB) - goal/43.97
Corey Perry (ANH) - goal/45.55
Wayne Simmonds (PHL) - goal/46.60
Patrick Kane (CHI) - goal/47.02
Jeff Skinner (CAR) - goal/48.06
Phil Kessel (PIT) - goal/52.43
T.J. Oshie (WSH) - goal/61.77

Pastrnak’s $6.67 million AAV would be a nice target for Simmonds and his agent to aim for, but a more realistic starting point should be the eight-year, $46 million extension the 30-year-old Oshie received from the Washington Capitals this past summer. In choosing an eight-year term, the Caps were able to carry a lower cap number in relation to the AAV. Simmonds may not possess Oshie’s creativity, but he’s been a more steady contributor.

Working against Simmonds will be his age. He’ll be 31 when a new contract goes into effect and general manager Ron Hextall might have reservations with a max eight-year deal that would extend Simmonds to the age of 39. A more realistic scenario would be an extension in the five-to-six year range with an AAV of $6-6.5 million that would pay Simmonds market value as one of the more consistent goal scorers over the past six years.  

Early edge for Elliott?
Brian Elliott won’t be surprised if his new teammate and fellow netminder Michal Neuvirth rolls into practice or even a morning skate with bags under his eyes.

Neuvirth became a father for the first time Tuesday when his girlfriend Karolina — sister of Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas — gave birth to their first child, daughter Emilka. It was about this same time last season when Elliott and his wife Amanda were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their son, Owen, who was born Oct. 2, just days prior to the start of the regular season. It was a whirlwind time for Elliott, who was adjusting to a new team in a new city with an entirely new lifestyle.

As one might expect, Elliott struggled with the Flames, starting the season off 3–9–1 with a 3.31 GAA and an .885 save percentage in his first 14 games. By mid-December, Elliott started to turn his season around and regained the starting job during the second half of the season, leading Calgary into the postseason.

“I don’t want to blame my month-old son for anything, but it’s a huge adjustment,” Elliott said. “You realize how actual selfish you are when you’re in this profession when you have to be your best. You do everything you can in your power to be prepared and when someone throws a wrench in the system, it’s definitely an adjustment. 

"Once we got some help from some family, feeding and sleeping got better. Your worries start to lessen where you can actually just focus on the task at hand. Leave work at work and leave family at home when you’re at work. It’s just hard to compartmentalize those things when it first starts.”  

Unlike Elliott, who is now on his third different team in the past 16 months, Neuvirth was fortunate he didn’t have to uproot after signing a two-year contract extension in March. For any expecting parents, finding a new doctor and moving into a new neighborhood just months before childbirth can create a “shock to the system.” With Owen Elliott now approaching his first birthday and on the verge of taking his first steps, Elliott has been quick to childproof his new home — a house they moved into sight unseen, just trusting the word of others and their real estate agent.  

Another advantage Neuvirth might have over Elliott is a family member to help out. Uncle Radko is right around the corner for diaper changing duties.

Roster moves
The Flyers made four cuts Thursday following Wednesday's rookie game against the Islanders. Forwards Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie), Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph), Matthew Strome (Hamilton) and Maksim Sushko (Owen Sound) have all been loaned back to their respective teams, putting the training camp roster at 57. Training camp opens Friday in Voorhees, New Jersey.