Wayne Simmonds

Trade talks or contract talks? Right now, doesn't sound like Wayne Simmonds is going anywhere

Trade talks or contract talks? Right now, doesn't sound like Wayne Simmonds is going anywhere

Last year it was Brayden Schenn who was dealt on draft night. 

Could this year be Wayne Simmonds?

According to a report Tuesday by Michael Russo of The Athletic, the Flyers are gearing to potentially trade Simmonds. Russo’s report mentions the Flyers as one of 15 different teams the Minnesota Wild could possibly swing a deal with under new general manager Paul Fenton.

While the speculation comes as little surprise, general manager Ron Hextall said last week immediately following his pre-draft press conference that he expects to have preliminary discussions with Simmonds' agent regarding a contract extension.

“Yeah, we’ll talk at some point,” Hextall said. “We had pro meetings, the week before was four days of amateur meetings. Combine before that. It’s a real busy time. That gets pushed back to later.”

Hextall certainly didn’t make it sound as if he’s gearing up to deal Simmonds this weekend, and he typically doesn’t resort to smoke screens as a way of misleading reporters. 

The Flyers' power forward has been a regular in Voorhees, New Jersey, throughout his rehab following surgery to repair a tear in his pelvis area. Hextall feels Simmonds is already on track to be 100 percent for training camp and anticipates a monster season from the 29-year-old right winger as he not only enters the final year of his contract but is also out to prove that last season was a fluke.

“I’ll be honest with you, Simmer’s a fast-twitch muscle guy, I don’t have any concern with him,” Hextall said. “I saw him [Thursday] morning, he’s gonna work his way, he’s with [team director of sports medicine Jim McCrossin]. He’s got great guidance. ... I have the expectation for Simmer to come back and be as good as new.”

Last year, Hextall mentioned he had not anticipated trading Schenn until the deal with St. Louis was pieced together on draft night. Something similar could also happen with Simmonds, who has a limited no-trade clause in his current contract, which allows him to submit a no-trade list of 12 teams. 

All of which leaves you wondering whether a big deal goes down in Big D.

More on the Flyers

What should the Flyers do with Simmonds?

• Simmonds played with more injuries than he can remember

• Hextall doesn't plan on trading up in draft, but ...

• How much will Flyers change? That's Hextall's challenge

End to End: What should the Flyers do with Wayne Simmonds?

End to End: What should the Flyers do with Wayne Simmonds?

The topic: What should the Flyers do with Wayne Simmonds?

John Boruk
With the myriad of injuries Simmonds dealt with this season, scoring 24 goals was a rather impressive accomplishment for a player who was never 100 percent at any point of the season. Barring a similar setback, Simmonds will be more than inspired to crack the 30-goal mark again in 2018-19. 

Later this summer, general manager Ron Hextall will have the option of extending Simmonds beyond next season. The concern surrounding a possible extension is that it wouldn’t take effect until the age of 31, and while Simmonds likely still has some good years of hockey left, the Flyers would be paying a premium for a player not exactly entering his prime years.  

Simmonds and his agent also realize this is the last big contract he’ll likely negotiate so he needs to maximize every bit of his earning potential after clearly outplaying his current six-year, $23.85 million deal.

If the Flyers insist on hanging on to Simmonds for the start of the season, I’d have no qualms with that. Simmonds' current contract at just under $4 million per season is still one of the best bargains in hockey. He’s a tremendous leader and a terrific locker room presence to the younger players. 

But with the emergence of Travis Konecny and the positive strides Oskar Lindblom took in the second half of the season, Simmonds has become expendable. He’s never been a solid defensive player (minus-58 in his seven seasons with the Flyers), and Nolan Patrick proved he can step into Simmonds' role on that top power-play unit.   

Regardless of his injury-plagued season, Simmonds still has good value. He has a modified no-trade clause where he can deny a trade to his list of 12 teams. If the Flyers indeed move on from the "Wayne Train," my preference would be to get a much-needed third-line center or perhaps a younger, more skilled forward like Arizona’s Max Domi, who’s coming off a disappointing season with the Coyotes.

Whether there’s an extension in the works or a possible trade on the horizon, the situation surrounding Simmonds will be rather interesting over the coming weeks and months.

Tom Dougherty
The Simmonds decision will be the toughest one yet for Hextall as an NHL general manager because there is no clear-cut route of action he should take. There are arguments as to why the Flyers should extend Simmonds, let him walk or trade him before his contract expires in 2019.

Simmonds has arguably been the Flyers’ most consistent forward since they acquired him in 2011. He’s routinely scoring around the 30-goal clip and even this season, playing through a laundry list of injuries, he tallied 24 markers and 46 points in 75 games. He does most of his damage on the power play as over half of his 107 goals as a Flyer have come on the man advantage.

Extending Simmonds, who turns 30 in August, has its risks. He’ll be looking to cash in on his final chance at a long-term contract and has earned a significant raise from his current $3.975 million AAV. To bring him back, the best course of action would be higher pay, shorter term. The Flyers are no longer in salary cap hell as Hextall has dug them out of that grave, but summer 2019 will be a big one. Ivan Provorov, Konecny and Travis Sanheim will all be restricted free agents with Patrick’s entry-level contract expiring the summer after. Those four players are higher priorities for the long-term success of the Flyers than Simmonds.

That said, I still think Simmonds brings tremendous value to the Flyers in 2018-19. Trading him this summer or during the season doesn’t do a lot for me, unless the return is extraordinary. Simmonds expressed interest in coming back during his end-of-season news conference and if the Flyers want him back, it’s worth discussing. If a compromise cannot be hammered out, then you consider moving Simmonds’ rights at the 2019 NHL draft.

Jordan Hall
In late April, Hextall had very little to say regarding the Simmonds situation.

"I'm not there yet to really make that decision," the general manager said.

A day before, to no surprise, Simmonds made it clear he had no desire to go anywhere.

"Hopefully I stay here and get to work my way into an extension," he said. "I know this year wasn't ideal for me and they probably didn't see from me what would require an extension … but this is definitely where I want to be.

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

It sounded like Simmonds knew he would still have to earn his extension, especially after a 2017-18 season spoiled by an unfathomable list of injuries that actually kept him out only seven games (see story).

But that's how I see things playing out. The Flyers will let Simmonds go into the season and prove his health and production — not only for the purposes of an extension but also his trade value. It just makes sense all the way around.

In the end, though, the Flyers will get something done with Simmonds — and I don't see anything wrong with that. Players like Simmonds have an immeasurable impact and Hextall greatly values him — he means so much, in so many ways, to the organization. The GM also believes in the production of his veterans when many seem to worry as that all-important age figure nears 30.

The key, of course, will be the years on the deal. The Flyers and Simmonds will find a happy medium.

Could this be a troubling sign for Flyers?

Could this be a troubling sign for Flyers?

Jakub Voracek listed off the things that many ponder about these equivocal Flyers.

He was running down all the positive developments to the team's 2017-18 season.

For one, Voracek himself had a career year (65 assists, 85 points). So did Claude Giroux (34 goals, 68 assists, 102 points) and Sean Couturier (31 goals, 45 assists, 76 points). Shayne Gostisbehere did the same (52 assists, 65 points), while Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov made significant leaps in Year 2. Even an injury-ravaged Wayne Simmonds managed 24 goals.

Yet, here the Flyers were, needing all 82 regular-season games to clinch a playoff berth before losing another first-round series that felt more lopsided than even. The Flyers were outscored by the Penguins, 28-15, while dropping all three games at home by a combined tally of 18-6.

Then again, they were able to push the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions to six games and would have forced a Game 7 had they held a 4-2 second-period lead. Konecny felt the Flyers had Pittsburgh "exposed." Brian Elliott was convinced they were winning the series after that two-goal advantage.

But, really, how close were they?

"It seems like we were really far," Couturier said two weeks ago at the Flyers' end-of-the-season press conferences. "They dominated us, but at the same time, I feel we were that close to beating them. Maybe it's funny to say, but if we capitalized on a few chances earlier in games, if we're a little more disciplined, then they don't take over and it's a tight series."

From a personal standpoint, so much went right for the Flyers during the regular season. Still, this offseason, they're left in the same position they've been in since 2012-13: no playoffs or a first-round defeat.

"Even if we didn't have a great playoffs, we basically almost pushed the Stanley Cup champions into a Game 7," Voracek said.

"We've got to win at least a playoff series next year. But a lot of bright futures, lot of guys that had great years and hopefully we're not that far off."

Which is a phrase the Flyers have reiterated at past clean-out days. And it's hard to blame them. The players are supposed to believe general manager Ron Hextall's plan is moving forward and nearing greater accomplishments.

In 2017-18, the problem certainly wasn't the core pieces, at least not during the regular season. 

What might be the biggest issues?

Many say it's the goaltending. Some may think it's the coaching. Or maybe the Flyers are just a year away from the youth finally meeting the core in perfect harmony.

"Now we have young players coming up and making a difference," Giroux said. "You look at our team and we have a good balance of older and younger guys. I'm not sure what the plan is coming September, but if we have the same team in the locker room, we're going to be pretty happy about that."

However, what's worrisome is the Flyers' mainstays (and even some of the kids) were significantly productive across the board but the end result remained the same.

So, sure, there are plenty of questions.

With more cap space, should the Flyers add in free agency? How much different will the defense look? Which prospects are next? Will the goaltending tandem hold up?

But these ones should go near the top of the list: can the big boys do it all again and will it even be enough?