VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers fans and even general manager Chuck Fletcher waited a long time to see their team get very little.
After being held out of practice in anticipation of a trade deadline deal, Wayne Simmonds was dealt to the Nashville Predators, where he will reunite with former coach Peter Laviolette — a deal that was completed just minutes before Monday's 3 p.m. deadline.
The Flyers received an underwhelming return of forward Ryan Hartman and a 2020 fourth-round pick, which becomes a third-rounder if the Predators win one round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Fletcher rejected any previous reports that Simmonds turned down a trade as part of his 12-team no-trade clause. There was an expectation that a Simmonds deal could return at least a second-round choice and a top-quality prospect, but Fletcher was looking for someone who could step in and contribute right away.
“We have an awful lot of prospects,” Fletcher said. “We have an awful lot of picks and there were opportunities to get multi-pick packages, but for the Flyers right now to add a 24-year-old first-round pick, I think we’re getting a young player with upside who can fit into our room and plays a gritty game.”
Simmonds also didn’t exactly boost his stock in the weeks leading up to the deadline, scoring just one goal over his last 16 games. Watching him over the first half of the season, he didn’t quite have the burst of speed, perhaps a result of the myriad of injuries he endured last season.
Earlier in the day, it appeared the bar for Simmonds was set when the Winnipeg Jets gave up a first-round pick, a conditional fourth-round selection and forward Brendan Lemieux for Rangers forward Kevin Hayes.
“This was a crazy market this year,” Fletcher said. “There were more forwards available this year than previous years, so if you were a team that was buying, you had a lot of different options. We exhausted every avenue, made every call. We were weighing a couple calls in the end and for us this trade made the most sense.”
Hartman, the 30th overall pick of the Blackhawks in 2013, has scored just 10 goals to go along with 20 points in 64 games with Nashville this season. During one stretch, he went 27 games without a goal.
He’s bounced around from Nashville’s top line to its fourth line, filling in the holes while the team dealt with injuries to key players Filip Forsberg, Colton Sissons and Kyle Turris.
After scoring a career-high 19 goals as a 22-year-old rookie, Hartman will be given another chance to revive his career in Philadelphia — his third different team in the past 12 months after he was dealt from Chicago to Nashville at last year’s deadline.
“For us, we’ll see how it fits, but for us he should be a guy who can fit in our top nine,” Fletcher said. “We didn’t think he played poorly in Nashville. He probably can step into the role that Wayne had.”
Hartman will catch a flight to Philadelphia from Nashville. He's expected to join the team for morning skate and to play Tuesday night against the Sabres. Signing him shouldn’t be a difficult task either. Hartman is a restricted free agent after the season, playing on a one-year deal worth $875,000.
Fletcher will now take the money and resources he would have used to sign Simmonds and look elsewhere to strengthen the team and be active through free agency.
“Cap space is finite, and ultimately that’s what it came down to for me,” Fletcher said. “We’ll have opportunities this summer to look at different needs, and we have some different areas that we still want to address.”
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