Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk and Jordan Hall.
The question: Should the Flyers trade Wayne Simmonds?
Before I proceed with whether the Flyers should sign or trade Simmonds, the first underlying issue that needs to be identified is whether the Flyers value Simmonds as part of the leadership core with his character and style of play to make a multi-year commitment.
There are a handful of championship-caliber teams that desperately need Simmonds' toughness and grit, not to mention how he plays around the net. However, Simmonds has been part of the Flyers' cog for eight seasons now and it's worth taking a hard look at the construction of this team and whether it has the right blend of talent and leadership.
With Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and now James van Riemsdyk all under contract for several more seasons, I contend that the Flyers can't bring this core group back next season. It's not working. They haven't advanced in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012, and those key players I mentioned aren't getting any younger. This isn't like the San Jose Sharks in 2016 when they finally had a breakthrough, reaching the Cup Final after so many years of coming up short.
Simmonds brings a unique skill set that is increasingly becoming rarer to find in this league, but I also realize he's a defensive liability with a minus-50 rating since 2016. He's not the most defensively responsible forward on the team and the Flyers don't have very many two-way players at the forward position.
If I'm general manager Chuck Fletcher, I simply can't go longer than a three-year extension with Simmonds. Part of the issue over the past seven to 10 years has been locking up players with long-term contracts and then paying the price for that extended term down the road. If Simmonds doesn't accept a short-term offer, then trading him before the deadline would only make logical sense.
It just makes the most sense.
The Flyers need to trade Simmonds and for a few reasons.
Firstly, Simmonds is incredibly valuable and has all the characteristics contending teams covet over the stretch run into the playoffs.
Here is what TSN's Bob McKenzie said on NBCSN this week:
The expectation is there's going to be a lot of teams that call because there are not many guys that can stand in front of the net on a power play like Wayne Simmonds, that have the speed and the character and the tenacity and the size and the strength — all those things that go together with the skill set that he's got where he could be very much in demand.
Secondly, the Flyers need to start retooling. It's past the midway point of the season and the Flyers entered Thursday at the direct bottom of the 31-team NHL standings.
Simmonds, who has been an absolute bargain for the Flyers, will be in for a possible five-year deal while turning 31 years old in August. The Flyers already have veterans locked up to longer deals worth more money, so here's the best chance to restructure the look of the roster a bit and bring back assets in a year that is lost.
And I expect it to happen by the Feb. 25 deadline.
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