Flyers

Flyers trade Wayne Simmonds to Predators before deadline

Flyers trade Wayne Simmonds to Predators before deadline

Updated: 5:28 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — Next stop for the "Wayne Train" is Nashville, Tennessee.

Just before Monday's 3 p.m. deadline, the Flyers traded one of the organization’s most beloved players to Music City in exchange for right winger Ryan Hartman and a fourth-round pick in 2020, which could be a third-round selection if the Predators win a playoff round.

The move marks the end of an era.

"I was extremely on edge, obviously, not knowing where the day would go or how it would unfold,” Simmonds told TSN. “I went to the rink this morning for practice and then I was told I wouldn’t be practicing. I got a chance to say bye to the boys for a last time. It happened at the last minute of the deadline and I’m kind of overwhelmed right now."

Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on June 23, 2011, along with Brayden Schenn and a second-round pick for Mike Richards and Rob Bordson, Simmonds turned out to be the best part of that package.

Even if the Flyers had just received Simmonds (which would have seemed ludicrous back then) and nothing else, the Flyers still would have overwhelmingly got the better part of that trade with L.A. 

And it didn’t take long for Flyers nation to become completely enamored with the skinny 6-foot-2 kid from Scarborough, Ontario.

He had a 28-goal season in his first full year in Philadelphia to go along with 114 penalty minutes. He brought goals and grit every season as if he was time capsuled from the 1970s to play for this city in front of these fans.  

What Chase Utley personified to the Phillies, what Brian Dawkins meant to the Eagles is exactly how you would characterize Simmonds within the Flyers' organization over the past eight years.

“He's been an ultimate warrior, he's been the best teammate all these years,” Claude Giroux said Saturday after their last game together. “We've all been here for a while now, we understand the business of it, but it doesn't mean we have to like it. There are not enough good words I can say about Wayne Simmonds."

Speaking with raw emotion following Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win, Jakub Voracek referred to him as his “best friend.” The rest of the league wasn’t as fortunate. Just ask Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who was rocked by Simmonds into the glass at Lincoln Financial Field and never returned — diagnosed with a concussion.

That check and the ensuing melee that resulted in the loss of defenseman Kris Letang changed the entire complexion of the game. The Penguins may have thought it was a borderline dirty hit, but it was vintage Simmonds and the league obviously agreed. 

Somehow, Simmonds engaged in 41 fights during his time with the Flyers and spent 784 minutes in the penalty box, and yet not once was he forced to miss a single game as the result of a suspension.

“It’s part of the game. I’m not a dirty player. I’ve never been suspended in my life. I don’t pick people’s heads. I don’t do any of that stuff," Simmonds said proudly said after Saturday’s game. "I play the game honest and hard, and I can sleep at night."

There are a handful of goalies around the league who have endured some sleepless nights staring at the back of No. 17.

Even though he was affectionately known as the "Wayne Train" throughout his Flyers career, Simmonds was more of a snow plow on a cold February morning in front of the opposition’s net. He would remove and clear out whatever stood in his way in order to score a goal, especially on the power play.

Since 2011, only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin has ripped off more power-play goals than Simmonds. 

But if you ask him, here’s how Simmonds probably wants to be remembered.

Just last season, he suffered a tear in his pelvic area before training camp, which eventually led to him pulling his groin. He fractured his ankle in the line of fire of a slap shot, and then tore ligaments in the right thumb of his shooting hand. On top of all of that, he lost six teeth after taking a stick to the face while enduring some of the most excruciating mouth pain one person could possibly imagine.

Wayne Simmonds gave the city of Philadelphia everything he had playing the game of hockey.

And whatever he’s got left, whatever muscles and tendons are still attached, is what he’ll give to the fans of Nashville. 

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Future Flyers Report: Wisconsin's Wyatt Kalynuk one of four prospects to watch in Big Ten

Future Flyers Report: Wisconsin's Wyatt Kalynuk one of four prospects to watch in Big Ten

It’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• The Flyers have some exciting young defensemen at the pro level. They also have some at the college and junior ranks.

Two that have received a lot of attention are Cam York and Egor Zamula. York was the Flyers' first-round pick this summer and is in his freshman year at Michigan, while Zamula is a near-point-per-game 19-year-old playing for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.

Another defenseman to keep tabs on his Wyatt Kalynuk, who the Flyers selected in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. The junior at Wisconsin had a goal, eight shots and seven blocked shots over two games against Notre Dame last weekend.

The 16th-ranked Badgers sport exciting underclassmen with Cole Caufield (2019 top-15 pick), Alex Turcotte (2019 top-five pick) and K'Andre Miller (2018 top-25 pick).

“The goal is to win a national championship," Kalynuk said this summer at Flyers development camp.

Kalynuk is a huge piece for Wisconsin. The 22-year-old has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) through 12 games.

"Probably my biggest strength is skating," Kalynuk said. "At Wisconsin, getting bigger, stronger and faster just improves it even more.

“I would consider myself a late bloomer, but it’s not a knock on me or anybody."

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher checked out the Badgers last season in February. Wisconsin was playing Flyers prospect Tanner Laczynski and Ohio State. With Kalynuk, Laczynski, York and Bryce Brodzinski (2019 seventh-round pick at Minnesota), the Flyers will be watching plenty of Big Ten hockey this season.

Quick hits

• Goalie Kirill Ustimenko, a 2017 third-round pick, had a 32-save shutout for the ECHL's Reading Royals in a 1-0 win last Saturday over the Wheeling Nailers. The 20-year-old has a 2.57 goals-against average in 10 games (six wins).

• Isaac Ratcliffe has missed the Phantoms' last three games with an injury. The 2017 second-round pick is transitioning to the pro level with three points (one goal, two assists) in 12 games.

• Noah Cates scored his team-leading fifth goal in Minnesota Duluth's 3-2 win Saturday over Miami (Ohio). The 2017 fifth-round pick is a sophomore on the country's ninth-ranked team.

"We talk about him every day and we can't stop bragging about him," Flyers player development coach Kjell Samuelsson said this summer.

• Jay O'Brien, a 2018 first-round pick, is second in the BCHL with 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) through 26 games for the Penticton Vees.

• Wyatte Wylie, another defenseman to watch, is a point-per-game player right now with five goals and 14 assists in 19 contests for the WHL's Everett Silvertips.

 

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Morgan Frost call-up has to do with everyone (especially James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes, Jakub Voracek)

Morgan Frost call-up has to do with everyone (especially James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes, Jakub Voracek)

VOORHEES, N.J. — Could Morgan Frost have used more time in the AHL?

Possibly.

But 20 games into the 2019-20 season, the Flyers were in a spot where they needed the 20-year-old’s ability. Uniquely, Frost impacts all four of the Flyers’ lines.

The Flyers are searching for greater balance and consistency within their forwards. They haven’t had it through 20 games and it’s a reason why they’ve been up and down during a 10-6-4 start.

Frost’s advertised prowess for playmaking permeates the big club’s makeup. Monday’s arrival of the 2017 first-round pick allows head coach Alain Vigneault to do many desired things with the Flyers’ lineup.

It moves Claude Giroux from the middle back to left winger, where he’s had his career-best success, without seriously hampering the Flyers at center. Frost will play between Giroux and Travis Konecny, a spot that accentuates the prospect’s strengths.

“T.K. is not a 10-year veteran, but he’s one of our young players that is definitely on the uprise and playing real well,” Vigneault said. “We’re playing Morgan with our captain. The captain will lead the way and help the young man out.”

It pieces back together the Flyers’ fourth line of Andy Andreoff, Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick, which was strong and gives the Flyers the necessary depth to augment Vigneault’s system.

“We felt that by bringing Morgan in and being able to go back to Raffy’s line, which had success with Andy on the left side and Tyler on the right side, it gave us better balance,” Vigneault said.

It keeps Sean Couturier with Oskar Lindblom, a duo that has highly performed, while adding Joel Farabee to the group. The trio showed promise in the 4-3 shootout loss Saturday night and it’s important the 19-year-old Farabee is around talent.

“Whoever we’ve played with Coots has played well,” Vigneault said.

And, most notably, it creates a line of James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes and Jakub Voracek, three players that haven’t produced the way everyone expects them to produce. JVR, Hayes and Voracek have combined for 29 points in 20 games. They are three of the Flyers’ four highest-paid players, all with an average annual value of $7 million or above. 

Vigneault knows those players must perform overall and especially at 5-on-5 for his team to take a legitimate step forward.

The Hayesy line, Jake and James, that should be a big, good NHL line, they should be able to contribute 5-on-5 and play well both offensively and defensively.

All those guys, I love the person. I love Kevin Hayes as a person, James and Jake I’m starting to know, they’re great people. I need more from the hockey player. Two different distinctions, right? The person and the hockey player. Those three guys, I need more from the hockey player. I know that they want to do well. We’re 20 games in. It’s time. I’m not telling you anything that I haven’t told them. Obviously they feel pressure, but that’s why they’re paid the big bucks. You’ve got to deliver, you’ve got to produce, and we expect those guys to produce.

Older guys, because of their reputation, because of what they’ve done in the league, they have more leash, they have more money in the bank. Some of our guys, they’ve used a few withdrawals. I’m not stating anything that [anybody doesn’t know], but I expect more from James, I expect more from Kevin, I expect more from Jake as far as 5-on-5 play. You’d ask those guys, they’d tell you the same thing. They need to be better for our team to get into the playoffs and we’re aware of that.

Vigneault and general manager Chuck Fletcher speak daily with AHL affiliate head coach Scott Gordon. On Sunday, Vigneault spoke with Fletcher for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. After hearing from Gordon, they felt the time was right for Frost.

“Putting our two minds together, we came up with this,” Vigneault said. “It wasn’t about coming up with a plan, it was just looking at our overall team — our four lines, our defense.”

As much as it was about Frost and the Flyers, it had a ton to do with van Riemsdyk, Hayes and Voracek. Frost is here and will make his NHL debut Tuesday night against the Panthers in Florida. While many eyes will be on Frost, Vigneault will continue to look for more from van Riemsdyk, Hayes and Voracek.

He’s a head coach with a track record of making the playoffs — and he sure doesn’t want to miss them in Year 1 with the Flyers.

 

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