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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Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as most improved player

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as most improved player

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers' 2019-20 Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as most improved player.

Destra

When it comes to most improved from last season, Travis Konecny is the first that comes to mind. He didn’t have a poor 2018-19 season by any means but when looking back and the leaps and bounds he has made since then, it just makes sense to award him the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy. 

Before the season started, I noted that Konecny was the most important puzzle piece for a successful year and he has continued to prove that with every game played. 

Konecny bettered his two-way game, cleaned up his puck work in the neutral zone and can be on a line with just about anyone and still find a way to drive play. He’s grown every aspect of his game and now leads the team in points, as well. 

Not to mention, he’s also a pest to play against, a ton of fun to watch, made his first All-Star appearance back in January … and he’s only 23 years old. 

Emmer

Konecny is the most improved player.

Fans were expecting a breakout season from Konecny and he’s having it. With 61 points through 66 games, he’s already 12 points past his previous career high of 49 points in 82 games last year. 

Konecny’s average ice time has gone up by almost two minutes more than last season and he has continued to dominate in his 5-on-5 play, while his presence on the Flyers' power-play units has grown as he leads the team in man advantage assists with 18.

The Flyers' 2015 first-rounder obviously had talent from the start, but this season he really blossomed on the score sheet and grew that confidence Flyers fans had certainly seen hints of before, but now see it on another level. 

His confidence could have spiked for many reasons: his offensive success, his coaching staff and new linemates and maybe even that six-year, $33 million contract he inked at the start of the season.

Whatever it was, that confidence is hopefully here to stay. Konecny certainly improved the most this season and I think Flyers fans have plenty to look forward to out of this 23-year-old for the next five-plus years.  

Hatcher

The Flyers have quite a few players who have taken the next step in their game this season, but Scott Laughton deserves this one in my opinion.

Statistically speaking, Laughton played 82 games last season, netting 12 goals and tallying 20 assists. After battling through two injuries this year (finger, groin), he’s still managed to pass that goal total with 13 in just 49 games so far in 2019-20. Laughton has also jumped from a minus-11 rating last year to a plus-13. He’s a key piece of the Flyers' significantly improved penalty kill.  

Not to mention, when Alain Vigneault has needed to shake up lines, Laughton has been able to find success as a top-six player. But, when called upon to contribute in the bottom six, he’s assumed the role without issue. Laughton still finds ways to distribute the puck well and produce with a different cast of players.  

Hall

With Konecny making such an important jump for the Flyers, he'll rightfully be the favorite for this award and should even be in consideration for the Bobby Clarke Trophy.

However, Oskar Lindblom won't be counted out for most improved. Don't be surprised if some teammates cast their votes for the 23-year-old forward — and those votes would be deserved.

Before being diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma during mid-December, Lindblom was thriving in his biggest role yet, scoring 11 goals and 18 points through 30 games. He was projected to finish with 30 goals after a promising rookie season in which he recorded 17 while playing fewer minutes.

Lindblom, who continues to undergo treatment, quickly won over Vigneault with his smarts and skill. His improvements were significant and evident.

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Scott Laughton says thank you to those 'putting their lives on the line' during coronavirus outbreak

Scott Laughton says thank you to those 'putting their lives on the line' during coronavirus outbreak

Just like his Flyers teammates, Scott Laughton is staying busy during the suspension of the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The 25-year-old forward is in Philadelphia keeping up with personal workouts, including a little bit of yoga with his girlfriend.

Aside from physical fitness, Laughton also dusted off his Xbox and depleted Claude Giroux's confidence in FIFA.

“I just wanted to say, I haven’t picked up an Xbox since junior [hockey]," Laughton said Monday in a video interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher. "Started playing a little bit during the break, G asked if we wanted to play twice, I mopped him up a little bit and beat him.

"Other than that, I actually picked up a book the other day, started reading a little bit. Not much, watching different shows, binge-watched 'Tiger King.'"

The 2019-20 Flyers are a tight-knit group, which has helped spearhead the team's resurgence after a letdown 2018-19 campaign.

"Everybody’s accepting of their role and doing what is asked of them and doing it with a smile on their face," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Monday on a conference call. "I think that’s why this group is so close and we were having the success that we were having at the end of the year."

Prior to the league's stoppage on March 12, the Flyers had won nine of their last 10 games and were 19-6-1 since Jan. 8, a stretch in which they were tied with the Bruins for the NHL's most points at 39. With 13 games left on their schedule, the Flyers are one point behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals and own the league's sixth-most points at 89.

Understandably, Flyers teammates are buzzing in the group chat during this period of separation.

“I think guys have been writing in the chat a lot, just trying to keep it light," Laughton said. "This is a tough time for everyone, just trying to stay in touch and see what’s going on in the league and what’s going to happen. I think guys are pretty curious about it, especially the way we were playing and going into it.”

As Laughton noted, this is a tough time for everyone. He's appreciative of all those in crucial roles, risking their health for others.

“Philly and everyone around the world have come together at this time," Laughton said. "At the front of it are the healthcare workers and everyone that’s working in the grocery stores and at different stores that you need to get essentials at, so a big thank you to all of them for doing all that for us and putting their lives on the line. It’s been a really special time to see these people put in their work and make sure everyone is healthy and safe.”

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