Flyers

Flyers Notes: Estimating Wayne Simmonds' next contract; early edge for Brian Elliott?

usa-wayne-simmonds-david-pastrnak.jpg
USA Today Images

Flyers Notes: Estimating Wayne Simmonds' next contract; early edge for Brian Elliott?

The Boston Bruins and right winger David Pastrnak agreed on a six-year, $40 million contract Thursday that comes with an average annual value of $6.67 million. The 21-year-old just completed a career-best season that saw him score 34 goals with 36 assists for 70 points in 75 games. The Bruins are hoping the incredibly skilled Pastrnak, who was a restricted free agent, has only scratched the surface at the NHL level.

Following this season, Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds will be eligible to sign a new pact with the organization prior to becoming a free agent in 2019. Teammates Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek both agreed to contract extensions in July heading into their respective contract years. 

Instead of evaluating Simmonds with analytics that don't cut to the core of his real value, let’s simply judge him as a consistent goal scorer. Judging Simmonds on a goal-per-game basis would disguise his real value, so let’s look at his production by minutes played since he doesn’t see the ice time of other wingers like Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane or Corey Perry. While he obviously doesn’t possess the skill set as the aforementioned superstars, you may be surprised how frequent Simmonds scores goals in relation to other players at his position. 

Since joining the Flyers in 2011-12, Simmonds has amassed 163 goals in his six seasons in orange and black. For Simmonds, that’s one goal for every 46.60 minutes of ice time. How does that stack up to other right wingers in the league?

Goals per minute played among RW since 2011-12
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) - goal/40.29
Nikita Kucherov (TB) - goal/43.97
Corey Perry (ANH) - goal/45.55
Wayne Simmonds (PHL) - goal/46.60
Patrick Kane (CHI) - goal/47.02
Jeff Skinner (CAR) - goal/48.06
Phil Kessel (PIT) - goal/52.43
T.J. Oshie (WSH) - goal/61.77

Pastrnak’s $6.67 million AAV would be a nice target for Simmonds and his agent to aim for, but a more realistic starting point should be the eight-year, $46 million extension the 30-year-old Oshie received from the Washington Capitals this past summer. In choosing an eight-year term, the Caps were able to carry a lower cap number in relation to the AAV. Simmonds may not possess Oshie’s creativity, but he’s been a more steady contributor.

Working against Simmonds will be his age. He’ll be 31 when a new contract goes into effect and general manager Ron Hextall might have reservations with a max eight-year deal that would extend Simmonds to the age of 39. A more realistic scenario would be an extension in the five-to-six year range with an AAV of $6-6.5 million that would pay Simmonds market value as one of the more consistent goal scorers over the past six years.  

Early edge for Elliott?
Brian Elliott won’t be surprised if his new teammate and fellow netminder Michal Neuvirth rolls into practice or even a morning skate with bags under his eyes.

Neuvirth became a father for the first time Tuesday when his girlfriend Karolina — sister of Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas — gave birth to their first child, daughter Emilka. It was about this same time last season when Elliott and his wife Amanda were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their son, Owen, who was born Oct. 2, just days prior to the start of the regular season. It was a whirlwind time for Elliott, who was adjusting to a new team in a new city with an entirely new lifestyle.

As one might expect, Elliott struggled with the Flames, starting the season off 3–9–1 with a 3.31 GAA and an .885 save percentage in his first 14 games. By mid-December, Elliott started to turn his season around and regained the starting job during the second half of the season, leading Calgary into the postseason.

“I don’t want to blame my month-old son for anything, but it’s a huge adjustment,” Elliott said. “You realize how actual selfish you are when you’re in this profession when you have to be your best. You do everything you can in your power to be prepared and when someone throws a wrench in the system, it’s definitely an adjustment. 

"Once we got some help from some family, feeding and sleeping got better. Your worries start to lessen where you can actually just focus on the task at hand. Leave work at work and leave family at home when you’re at work. It’s just hard to compartmentalize those things when it first starts.”  

Unlike Elliott, who is now on his third different team in the past 16 months, Neuvirth was fortunate he didn’t have to uproot after signing a two-year contract extension in March. For any expecting parents, finding a new doctor and moving into a new neighborhood just months before childbirth can create a “shock to the system.” With Owen Elliott now approaching his first birthday and on the verge of taking his first steps, Elliott has been quick to childproof his new home — a house they moved into sight unseen, just trusting the word of others and their real estate agent.  

Another advantage Neuvirth might have over Elliott is a family member to help out. Uncle Radko is right around the corner for diaper changing duties.

Roster moves
The Flyers made four cuts Thursday following Wednesday's rookie game against the Islanders. Forwards Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie), Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph), Matthew Strome (Hamilton) and Maksim Sushko (Owen Sound) have all been loaned back to their respective teams, putting the training camp roster at 57. Training camp opens Friday in Voorhees, New Jersey.

End to End: What is Ron Hextall's next big signing?

End to End: What is Ron Hextall's next big signing?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk, Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: What is Ron Hextall's next big signing?

Boruk
There are three ways to look at this …

1. The Flyers re-sign Wayne Simmonds, who's eligible for an extension that would take effect in 2019-20.

2. Ron Hextall inks one of his restricted free agents to a team-friendly, lengthy multi-year deal.

3. The Flyers go big in free agency next summer. 

Let’s start with the latter. There are some interesting names that are headlining next summer’s potential UFA class: Tyler Seguin, Tyler Myers, Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin. 

Who knows which of these players will be re-signed or traded, but I don’t see the Flyers paying big dollars to add another forward now that you include James van Riemsdyk. According to Spotrac.com, the Flyers have $46.5 million (fourth highest in the NHL) committed to forwards, with Travis Konecny due for a pay raise next summer, as well.

With that knowledge, I’m not sure it makes sense for the Flyers to extend Simmonds another four to five years with an AAV of $6-7 million. Hextall has a good barometer of what Simmonds is worth on the open market, which is why term would be the sticking point in negotiations. If he’s willing to look at a three-year deal, it could get done soon, but if I’m Simmonds' agent, I’m trying to maximize the length of any new contract, which very well could be the last one his client signs.

I think the next big contract will be signed by defenseman Ivan Provorov, who’s entering the final year of his entry-level deal. It’s not out of the financial realm to think Provorov could sign a Drew Doughty-type bridge deal similar to the eight-year, $56 million pact the Kings' defenseman signed in 2011 at the age of 21. Doughty was coming off a monstrous 16-goal, 59-point season. Last season, Provorov ripped off 17 goals and 41 points and appears poised to build on that for this upcoming season.

Prepare yourself. Provorov will receive the next big pay day in Philadelphia.

Dougherty
Outside of teaching the Sixers and Phillies how to close a deal, Hextall's only item left on his offseason to-do list is to re-sign restricted free agent Robert Hagg.

During his end-of-season-news conference in April, Hextall said "initially, my thought right now is that we would be open to either long term or short term" with Hagg.

Whether Hagg qualifies as a "big signing" isn't really up for debate. It's not. Hagg is a quality third pair defenseman in the NHL and he proved as much in his rookie season.

But re-signing Hagg is the only move left I envision Hextall making this summer, or at the very least, the next move. A Provorov or Simmonds extension remains possible too.

As Hextall mentioned, the Flyers are open to either a short or long-term deal with Hagg. Both have their upside. That is also likely the holdup right now.

While Hagg wouldn't qualify as a "big" signing, he is next on the checklist. Once his contract is out of the way, then I could see the Flyers knocking out Provorov or Simmonds.

Hall
Hextall tends to get ahead and take care of his own.

When you look at the track record, he's not one to let contract decisions linger, especially when it comes to his core pieces — which makes for good business.

Just like in any profession, stability and happiness are important.

The Flyers' general manager extended Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier the summer prior to their contract years. 

He signed Shayne Gostisbehere, a restricted free agent last summer, in early June before the expansion draft and free agency opened. 

He even signed Michael Raffl in February 2016 before the role forward was set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

With all that said, my gut tells me Hextall's next big move is extending Simmonds at some point before the start of the season. Simmonds, coming off an injury-ravaged year in which he still managed to score 24 goals, can hit unrestricted free agency following the 2018-19 season. He wants to be back and Hextall values him greatly.

And the GM made it clear that when the Flyers signed van Riemsdyk to a five-year deal, it meant nothing to their situation with Simmonds.

"We like Wayne Simmonds," Hextall said July 1. "This doesn't change anything for Wayne. This is a left winger; this is a different player than Simmer. We're excited to have James, and certainly, we would like to have Simmer for a long time, too."

I expect that to be the next major check on the agenda.

More on the Flyers

Another Oskar Lindblom? Marcus Westfalt has footsteps to follow with Flyers

Another Oskar Lindblom? Marcus Westfalt has footsteps to follow with Flyers

Ron Hextall knows how these things can work out.

He remembers plucking Oskar Lindblom in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL draft. Not much was made of the pick, barely even a peep, because, well, the 138th overall selections don't typically draw heaps of praise.

Lindblom quietly slipped back to Sweden. Three summers later, Flyers fans couldn't stop talking about him.

"Oskar went away, no one knew who the hell he was, fifth-round pick, over there getting better and better and better and bang," Hextall said last July. "He's the SHL Forward of the Year."

One has to believe Lindblom's name popped in the general manager's head when the Flyers saw Marcus Westfalt still available and the clock ticking on their 2018 seventh-round pick. At 205th overall, Westfalt became the Flyers' final selection, making for eerie similarities to Lindblom, who forced his way to the big club in 2017-18.

Westfalt plays for the same Swedish junior team (Brynäs IF J20) and SHL squad (Brynäs IF) as Lindblom did when he was taken by the Flyers. Both prospects are from Sweden and dropped in their respective drafts. Lindblom, a left winger, stands 6-foot-1, 191 pounds, while Westfalt, a center/left winger, comes in at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds.

Another Lindblom in the works?

"Hopefully, that's my dream, of course," Westfalt said three weeks ago at Flyers development camp. "But he's a really good player, he's got a lot of skill. But, yeah, hopefully."

The 18-year-old was well aware of Lindblom. It was hard to not hear or see his fellow countryman transform from fifth-round pick to ballyhooed Flyers prospect. In 2016-17, when Lindblom really took off with Brynäs IF and won Swedish Hockey League Forward of the Year, Westfalt witnessed the rise.

"I watch him a lot," Westfalt said. "His last year in Brynäs before he got here, I watched him a lot. He's a [role model] because I think he's really good, he's good with his hands, his speed, he uses his body well. I watch him a lot."

In his draft year, Lindblom played only four SHL games compared to 43 for Brynäs IF J20. For Westfalt, it was a bit different. He appeared in 39 SHL games, including playoffs, while playing 26 contests at the junior ranks, where he put up 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) and a plus-19 rating.

Westfalt's goal for 2018-19 is to play the whole season in the SHL. Lindblom did a bit later than Westfalt, but once the jump was made, he impacted games.

"Try to get more ice time," Westfalt said. "Bigger role in the game.

"[Brynäs IF] told me that I have some things I need to work on and if I do that, I can get to play."

Westfalt, who had four points (one goal, three assists) in those 39 SHL games, said he tries to be "a smart, two-way centerman," and feels his "play in the D-zone is better than the offense."

"I'm strong without the puck and with the puck," he said.

While the goal is to stick in the SHL, he's uncertain which level will be best for his on-ice growth at this stage of his development."

"When I play in junior, I get more ice time, I get to play a lot more with the puck, I get to play the power play and stuff like that," he said. "I want to play in the juniors, too, because I want to work on my skills, but my big goal is to do the same thing I do in the juniors in the SHL."

Lindblom eventually did, carving out his path to the Flyers at 21 years old.

"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said last summer.

With Westfalt, there is no chip on his shoulder as a seventh-round pick.

"No, for me, I'm just glad that I'm here," he said. "It's a great organization. It's fun to go earlier [in the draft], but I'm just happy to be here."

And eager to climb like Lindblom.

More on the Flyers