Flyers wouldn't budge on rumored Wayne Simmonds trade at NHL draft

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Flyers wouldn't budge on rumored Wayne Simmonds trade at NHL draft

Rumors were circulating throughout the floor of the American Airlines Center Friday night of a potential deal involving Wayne Simmonds for Calgary defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

Who knows how deep those discussions evolved, but the possibility of a straight-up swap simply didn’t make much sense. 

The Flyers would have jumped at the chance of acquiring a 25-year-old right-handed 6-foot-6 defenseman who can skate like the wind while possessing an impressive offensive skill set coming off a career-high 17 goals last season. Hamilton’s durability includes missing just one game in his three seasons in Calgary and he’s under club control at a reasonable $5.75 million cap hit over the next three years.

Which is why a deal wasn’t brokered. 

The Flames simply needed more from the Flyers, and general manager Ron Hextall isn’t willing to part with the prospects that prospective teams continuously keep asking about whether it’s Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers or whomever. Once again, Hextall admitted as much after speaking with the media Sunday following the draft.

“Again, would we like to add a big piece? Yeah, we would absolutely, but we’re not trading one of our top prospects for a guy that’s going to play for us for a year or two," Hextall said. "You look back in two years and you go, 'What was I thinking?'”    

There’s a certain irony in that hypothetical, but Hextall can only cross his fingers and hope that a prospect like Sanheim eventually develops into a player like Hamilton, who interestingly was selected right after Sean Couturier in the 2011 draft. 

In fact, the guy sitting just to the right of Hextall at the Flyers' draft table likely would not have left Dallas without adding a player like Hamilton, but team president Paul Holmgren is now four years removed from making those decisions.

As it turned out, the Flames dealt Hamilton to Carolina the next day along with forward Micheal Ferland for 21-year-old defenseman Noah Hanifan, promising forward Elias Lindholm and defensive prospect Adam Fox. 

Regardless, the type of player the organization covets was available at a certain price — just not one the Flyers' GM is willing to meet.

Which brings us back to Simmonds.

July sets up to be an interesting month in the future of the Flyers' power forward.

For one, he’s eligible to sign an extension, and just a few weeks ago Hextall briefly mentioned preliminary discussions with Simmonds' agent in the near future. The framework for a deal will give the Flyers an idea of how closely the two sides are. Keep in mind, Claude Giroux (Holmgren signing) and Jakub Voracek (Hextall signing) were both locked up long term in July heading into their respective contract years. Same could happen with Simmonds.   

But if the two sides are far apart, rest assured there will be teams very interested in adding a 30-goal scorer. Right now, they’re simply waiting out the John Tavares saga before proceeding with Plan B. One team will walk away happy while others will be left scrambling.

Aside from Tavares, James van Riemsdyk is the only other potential UFA who scored 30 goals this past season, and while a myriad of injuries prevented Simmonds from reaching the 30-goal mark for the third time in his career, Simmonds appears poised to bounce back in a big way in 2018-19.

Hextall wants to be active during free agency, but to what extent is still undetermined. Keep in mind not only have the Flyers historically completed some deals with the start of free agency, they’ve also been prone to making a few trades as well. 

There’s Daymond Langkow to Phoenix in 2001, Joni Pitkanen to Edmonton in 2007, Denis Gauthier to L.A. in 2008, Kris Versteeg to Florida in 2011 and Tye McGinn to San Jose in 2014. All trades completed within the first few days of July.

However, Simmonds brings value beyond numbers. He’s a tremendous locker room leader, a strong presence with the organization’s younger players and will never back down standing up for anyone who wears the same sweater as he does.

The following days or weeks may determine just how much those intangibles are worth.

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If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

Chuck Fletcher was brought in because things weren't going well enough and quickly enough for the Flyers.

The predicament he inherited required eventual change.

After all, sitting alongside team president Paul Holmgren back in November, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said the Flyers were eyeing a general manager with a "bias for action," among other qualities.

With time and evaluation, Fletcher has begun providing the desired action.

A new head coach is on board, bringing extensive experience and outside perspective, while two new assistants with strong pedigrees have been hired.

But perhaps the most influential part in shifting the Flyers' course has remained mostly intact: the roster. That could drastically change this upcoming offseason with free agency and potential trades. However, Fletcher, facing his first offseason as the Flyers' GM, doesn't see an exodus needed with the current roster — or at least not yet.

"The Flyers are a great opportunity. You guys are in this market, for me coming in from the outside, I know when Paul Holmgren approached me about being the general manager of the Flyers, I'm like, 'Wow.' This is a premium job in the National Hockey League and we're set up where we should have an opportunity to get better quickly," Fletcher said April 18. "I know we need more good players, but we have a lot of good players. It's not like you have to gut this thing — we have cap space, we have picks. We have really good staff, really good staff. On the scouting and management side, I've added one person, I haven't subtracted anything. There's a good group here and we have the ability to get better quickly if we all do our job."

Therein lies a poignant and undeniable pressure on Fletcher in Year 1 with the Flyers under Alain Vigneault's watch.

Aside from Wayne Simmonds, who became an inevitable piece to move given the circumstances, the Flyers' core has survived. So, too, has the overall makeup of the roster.

Fletcher, Vigneault and the Flyers believe this team can win with a refined system and different guidance. They don't exactly see a team that has missed the playoffs every other season since 2012-13, a stretch consisting of three first-round exits.

Will Fletcher add this summer? Of course — the ability to do so is one of the reasons why Vigneault found the Flyers as an attractive destination. When Fletcher was hiring Vigneault, the two established a list of areas in which the Flyers can improve.

"We're looking at some options and if we can put the right things in place," Vigneault said at his introduction, "it's going to be a lot of fun."

Significant subtraction was not featured on the list.

"There's some solid youth with a lot of upside here that is coming into its own," Vigneault said. "There's great goaltending, being one of those youth pieces. There's a solid core group that, in my mind, needs the right direction. And you've got the combination, also, of some solid veteran players that have been in the league a few years, that can still contribute at a high level in this league. … After discussing it with a lot of people that I respect their opinion in the NHL, I feel that the Flyers are a very good team that with the proper direction, proper mindset, proper culture and people working together, will be a very good team in the near future."

That's why Year 1 will be so telling.

Vigneault is a coach with a tremendous track record of winning during his first season on the job. He did so at three separate stops (see story). Michel Therrien has 38 postseason victories under his belt as a head coach and took a team to the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Yeo owns three playoff series victories as a head coach and has a ring as an assistant.

If this group can't produce the results with the Flyers' roster, Fletcher will have to take a longer, much more serious look at the players in place and make his hardest decisions yet.

At that point, it may be the only action left.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

There has been a ton of drama only three games into the Western Conference Final between the Sharks and Blues.

Game 3 was won by the Sharks, 5-4, in overtime, but not without controversy. San Jose may have gotten away with a hand pass on the game-winning goal.

The series will shift one way or the other Friday night with Game 4.

Below is the schedule for Day 37 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (SJS 2-1)
Game 4, Western Conference Final
8 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here