Flyers

Wayne Simmonds contract: Ron Hextall was 'ways apart' on extension with Flyers' power forward

Wayne Simmonds contract: Ron Hextall was 'ways apart' on extension with Flyers' power forward

VOORHEES, N.J. — One of the first orders of business a new general manager will have to address is the status of Wayne Simmonds and his future with the organization.

Simmonds is playing out the final season of a six-year, $23.8 million contract he signed with the organization in August 2012. Ideally, Simmonds would like to remain in Philadelphia for the remainder of his career. 

However, the outlook was looking rather bleak under former GM Ron Hextall.

“There was a comfort level for us and a comfort level for them," Hextall said Friday. “We were a ways apart.”

It’s believed Simmonds is searching for a long-term contract in the neighborhood of six years that will take him into the final years of his career. Hextall stated it was a combination of the length of a contract and where the forward fit in the framework of the salary cap. The organization also has to re-sign restricted free agents Ivan Provorov and forward Travis Konecny — two players who should be considered a higher priority, given their long-term value to the franchise.    

Hextall also admitted he hadn’t spoken to Simmonds' agent, Eustace King of O2K Management, since Nov. 1 when the Flyers were in Los Angeles. If the Flyers continue their losing ways into 2019, the possibility of a trade becomes more and more likely.

“I don’t know how that was going to play out,” Hextall said. “Sometimes you’ve got to have a deadline for those things. Whether it would have been the trade deadline or the end of the year (June 30), I don’t know how that would have played out.”

When I asked Simmonds if a regime change left him optimistic that a new contract extension could be reached, the Flyers' power forward remained steadfast in his decision to focus purely on hockey moving forward.

“I’ve got no clue. I’d think you’d have to ask the guys in charge,” Simmonds said. “As players, we’re here to play. I think I have to continue to improve as well. That’s my main focus here.”

Since joining the Flyers in June 2011 in the trade for Mike Richards, Simmonds leads all Flyers with 196 goals.

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Flyers at Flames: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Flames: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers will once again try to match a mark set by the team in 2011-12, when the club last went to the playoffs.

The last time the Flyers opened the regular season with at least a point in four straight games was 2011-12 (3-0-1). The 2019-20 Flyers (2-0-1) have a chance to do that Tuesday night when they visit the Flames (2-3-1).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers could not have asked for a better start from Travis Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract last month.

The 22-year-old winger has three goals and three assists in three games. His six points are the most by any Flyer through the first three games of a season since 2009-10, when defenseman Matt Carle also had six on one goal and five assists.

Going back to last season, the Flyers are 17-4-2 when Konecny scores a goal.

• Keep an eye on Chris Stewart, who is playing his first NHL regular-season game since March 29, 2018. In that game, he was playing for the Flames and scored a goal. Interestingly, he has his most career points against Calgary — 22 on 12 goals and 10 assists.

Also keep an eye on Jakub Voracek, who saw a demotion in the third period of last Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks. Let's see how he responds with his normal minutes and role.

Voracek and James van Riemsdyk are scoreless through the Flyers' first three games.

• The Flames were 26-10-5 at home last season, while putting up 50 wins and 107 points overall, most in the Western Conference.

Johnny Gaudreau is as good as they get, while Sean Monahan has killed the Flyers with 10 goals in 12 career games against the orange and black.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Carsen Twarynski
Tyler Pitlick-Michael Raffl-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Matt Niskanen
Robert Hagg-Shayne Gostisbehere

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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Flyers sign Chris Stewart to contract after lengthy NHL pro tryout

Flyers sign Chris Stewart to contract after lengthy NHL pro tryout

Updated: 12:40 p.m.

The work and the wait have paid off for Chris Stewart.

The Flyers signed the veteran winger on Tuesday to a one-year, one-way contract worth $750,000. Stewart, who turns 32 years old this month, had been with the Flyers on an NHL pro tryout since the beginning of training camp.

"We're happy to have Chris under contract," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a release by the team. "Chris came into training camp with a great attitude and a strong work ethic. He brings size and a veteran presence to our lineup."

Stewart projects to be the club’s extra forward. However, he was in the lineup Tuesday night against the Flames.

The Flyers had cap space and roster space for Stewart. Through the first three games, the team did not carry a 13th forward and had only 21 players on the roster. With the waiving of defenseman Andy Welinski, who is headed to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, the cap space was created to finally add Stewart, a good insurance policy for the Flyers.

When Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) returns, there will be an odd man out in the Flyers’ lineup and it projects to be either Connor Bunnaman or Carsen Twarynski, both 21-year-old rookies. It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to have either of those two watch from the press box instead of further developing with the Phantoms.

Meanwhile, Stewart will welcome the opportunity after being out of the NHL last season and playing for the EIHL’s Nottingham Panthers. He’ll be a positive personality in the dressing room, a quality guy for practice and a capable fourth-line power forward if the Flyers need to call his number.

At 6-foot-2, 243 pounds, Stewart brings size and physicality, which the Flyers value. Those traits can play well in head coach Alain Vigneault's system.

Stewart has ties to Fletcher and assistant coach Mike Yeo, from their days in Minnesota. Stewart played parts of three seasons for the Wild from 2014 to 2018, putting up 25 goals, 20 assists and a plus-6 rating in 146 games.

Overall, he has played 652 career NHL games between six teams, with his best season coming in 2009-10, when he scored 64 points (28 goals, 36 assists) over 77 games for the Avalanche.

“Chris, to me, this is a guy who scored quite a few goals in the NHL,” Fletcher said Sept. 26. “He’s got a lot more skill I think than people give him credit for. He’s a really good skater, especially in a straight line. He’s lean this year. This is the best shape he’s been in in years, at least that I’ve seen, and he obviously brings the physical element. He brings the elements of being a pretty quality power forward.”

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