Wayne Simmonds provides update on contract talks with Flyers

Wayne Simmonds provides update on contract talks with Flyers

One of the Flyers' storylines of the summer that remains unanswered as training camp is now two weeks away is Wayne Simmonds' contract status.

Simmonds is entering the final season of his six-year, $23.85 million contract extension that he signed Aug. 16, 2012, and is eligible to sign an extension with the Flyers.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said multiple times he would like to extend Simmonds, who turned 30 on Sunday, but we haven't heard much from the player since his exit interview in April (see story).

That changed Wednesday.

"I think they've had preliminary talks," Simmonds told reporters in Toronto, "but it is what it is at this point. I got to get healthy first and foremost and show that I am the player that I was two years ago.

"For being injured, I didn't have a bad season last year, but it's still not to the best of my ability. So when we continue to talk, we continue to talk. It is what it is right now."

With training camp 16 days away, the clock is nearing midnight if the Flyers and Simmonds wanted to get something done before the season gets underway.

Obviously, they can agree to an extension at any point during the regular season, but Hextall doesn't have an extensive history re-signing players in-season.

Hextall did sign Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to a two-year extension in March of the 2015-16 season, so it's not totally out of his M.O. But you'd think they would want to hammer one out before the season gets rolling.

Simmonds has plenty of motivation this season outside of his next contract (see story). He said Wednesday that his contract status will not change the way he'll play.

"I don't think it's going to change much for me," Simmonds said. "I'm going to be the same player I always am, so it's not going to have much barring.

"I've played 10 years in this league. I've put together some pretty good years, so I don't think I have much to prove other than being the player that I am."

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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)

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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.

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