Flyers

Wayne Simmonds played with more injuries than he can remember

Wayne Simmonds played with more injuries than he can remember

VOORHEES, N.J. — There were so many, Wayne Simmonds even lost track.

"I actually forgot about that one," he said with a laugh.

The Flyers' power forward was referring to the torn ligament in his thumb, the lone injury to declare victory with Simmonds this season.

And don't think he didn't have his battles.

As Simmonds sat down at his end-of-the-season press conference Wednesday, the list of injuries could have unrolled from his chair and out the door.

With some picking and prodding, one by one he ran them off.

In total?

A tear in his pelvic area, fractured ankle, pulled groin, busted mouth (twice) and the torn ligament in his thumb.

Simmonds missed only seven games in 2017-18, with the thumb finally dragging the unbreakable man off the ice.

Call him crazy, call him naïve, but don't question his dedication or toughness.

"I think for me, I don't know if it's the right thing, but I can't not play," Simmonds said. "It's just geared in my head to where if I'm not dead or I'm not deathly sick, I'm going to try and get out there and do whatever I can. Whether the coach is going to play me, or whatever minutes he wanted to play me, that was up to him. I'm definitely going to sacrifice my body for the team, that's for sure."

The trigger to the mess came well before his season-opening hat trick. Simmonds' pelvic tear was diagnosed in training camp, an injury he believes was suffered prior to report day.

"But I had no idea," Simmonds said. "You start doing all the skate testing and everything like that, and you find out pretty quickly."

The 29-year-old, coming off back-to-back 30-plus-goal seasons, was then faced with a dilemma. Surgery to repair the tear was an option, but that meant missing a month to a month and a half of action.

"It wasn't something I wanted to do," Simmonds said. "I thought I'd be able to play through it and do a decently good job. I didn't play up to my expectations this year. It was a very frustrating year. Things didn't go the way I wanted but if I can play, I'm going to play."

The decision boiled down to something pretty simple.

"They showed me the MRI and I was like, 'Can I play?'" Simmonds said. "Yeah, I can play."

The problem was the injury brought side effects.

"Having that, that leaves other things," Simmonds said. "Your body is overcompensating and other stuff starts breaking down. It wasn't good."

Because of it, Simmonds said he then pulled his groin in October before fracturing his ankle not long after following a power-play shot to the foot.

"It kind of just broke," Simmonds said. "It wasn't a weight-bearing bone, so you're still able to play with that."

However, he wasn't able to play from Feb. 20 to March 4. He also underwent serious dental work in February.

In all, it sounded like hell.

"When everything's piling on top of one another, it sucks," he said.

Simmonds finished the regular season with 24 goals, 22 assists and a minus-16 rating in 75 games. During the first-round playoff exit to the Penguins, he had two assists in six games.

He seldom looked like himself.

"That was the biggest thing. It didn't allow me to have the power I usually have," Simmonds said. "It was extremely frustrating. Obviously you want to be able to do something and you're able to do it usually, and then your brain is telling your body to do it and your body's not doing it."

Simmonds, who said surgery on his pelvis is likely, now faces an offseason in which he's eligible for an extension starting July 1 ahead of his 2018-19 contract year.

"I know this year wasn't ideal for me and they probably didn't see from me what was required for an extension," Simmonds said. "This is definitely where I want to be.

"This is where I want to be for the rest of my career."

Banged up or not.

Flyers' 2019-20 preseason schedule features trip to Switzerland

Flyers' 2019-20 preseason schedule features trip to Switzerland

Typically, the Flyers' preseason schedule consists of trips within the Northeast.

In 2019-20, the Flyers will be branching out just a tad. The upcoming exhibition slate features a game in Lausanne, Switzerland, which caps off the preseason before the club begins the regular-season campaign with its anticipated opener in Prague, Czech Republic, where they'll play the Blackhawks on Oct. 4.

Last year, the Flyers' preseason opener came two days after the start of training camp. This upcoming year, the Flyers' preseason opener comes Monday, Sept. 16, which means main training camp (after rookie camp) will likely start Saturday morning, Sept. 14, at Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Here's a look at 2019-20 exhibition schedule, starting with the annual rookie game:

9/11: Rookie game vs. NY Islanders, PPL Center, 7:05 p.m.

9/16: vs. NY Islanders, Wells Fargo Center, 7 p.m.

9/17: at NY Islanders, Barclays Center, 7 p.m.

9/19: vs. Bruins, Wells Fargo Center, 7 p.m.

9/21: vs. NY Rangers, Wells Fargo Center, 7 p.m.

9/23: at Bruins, TD Garden, 7 p.m.

9/26: at NY Rangers, Madison Square Garden, 7 p.m.

9/30: vs. HC Lausanne, Vaudoise Arena (Switzerland), 1 p.m. (7 p.m. local)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

What Rangers' trade to land Jacob Trouba means for Flyers

What Rangers' trade to land Jacob Trouba means for Flyers

Chuck Fletcher likes the Flyers' defense.

"In saying our defense corps is young, I do believe it's the strength of our team going forward," the Flyers' general manager said last Saturday.

With the addition of Matt Niskanen and the door opening for another prospect, it looks strong on paper.

But can it be better and do the Flyers have a legitimate No. 1 defenseman/first pair?

"If we can find a guy that can play in our top four that we have the ability to acquire, we'll certainly look at it," Fletcher said.

"You're always looking to upgrade if you can, but it will certainly depend on whether we can acquire that player and whether even that player is available."

One of the most notable blueliners on the trade market is now unavailable. The Jets sent Jacob Trouba to the Rangers Monday night in exchange for Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in this weekend's NHL draft. 

So one of the Flyers' division rivals will add Trouba and highly likely consensus No. 2 overall pick Kaapo Kakko in the same week. Not bad.

It's unknown if the Flyers were interested in or pursuing Trouba. The 25-year-old is arguably a No. 1 defenseman and wants to be paid like one. He is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason and should eventually get a nice raise from his $5.5 million salary in 2018-19.

For the Flyers, landing Trouba would have come in no small deal. Seeing what the Jets acquired (which looks like it should have been more), you'd think the Flyers would have had to give up the 11th overall pick and a promising young player — and then there's paying Trouba.

The Flyers' defense is already young and much more formidable now with the acquisition of Niskanen. Fletcher and company should absolutely like what they already have in place and the offseason has hardly begun. Don't expect Fletcher to sit back. He's been aggressive and there's still plenty of time and other avenues to improve the defense.

A name to keep an eye on via the trade market is Jared Spurgeon, who we wrote about earlier this month. The price to acquire the 29-year-old wouldn't be as steep compared to acquiring Trouba. The righty-shot Spurgeon is a career plus-51 and got his NHL start in Minnesota because of Fletcher, who signed him in 2010. He's under contract through 2019-20, so the Flyers wouldn't be committed long term unless they want to be after the season.

"He has the ability to play in every situation: up a goal, down a goal, both specialty teams," Fletcher said in 2015, via the Associated Press. "He just does everything right. Just a great system player."

Fletcher liked the look of his defense last weekend and that hasn't changed.

What has changed is the Flyers will have to see Trouba more than twice a season. How their defense stacks up against the Rangers and the rest, time will tell.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers