Let’s paint a picture, shall we? It’s 5:00 a.m. on October 3rd, one day before the Philadelphia Flyers season opener. Your alarm sounds, announcing it is time to awaken from your slumber and prepare for a day of work. After you wipe the crusties from your eyes, you take a look at your cell phone and notice a notification from the NHL app. It informs you that the Flyers and Wayne Simmonds have come to an agreement on a “team friendly” deal that does not break the bank or hold a lengthy term.
Time to snap back to reality. The Flyers and Simmonds have yet to come to terms on a new agreement, and it’s looking less likely anything will get done before the regular season begins on October 4th. Truthfully, a contract extension at any point seems less likely as each day passes.
Yes, the 30-year-old winger is a fan favorite in Philadelphia. Yes, he provides both unmatchable heart and solid production to this franchise. Unfortunately, both of these qualities make players similar to Simmonds a hot commodity and desired asset. As we all know, desired assets get overpaid on the free agent market every summer. Ron Hextall is not going to, nor should he, shell out too much money or term to a player who turns 31 before the start of the 2019-20 season, no matter how valuable he has been to the organization.
The Tom Wilson extension this past summer does not help Philadelphia’s efforts to bring back Simmonds on a reasonable deal, either. The Washington Capitals ponied up the big bucks to hold onto the 24-year-old winger, inking him to a six-year contract worth $31 million. Of course Wilson is far younger than Simmonds, but his production doesn’t even come close, even when Simmonds is playing hurt for an entire season. You can bet your bottom dollar that Simmonds paid close attention to the Wilson deal and knows very well that he can fetch more than that on the open market.
With a Simmonds extension appearing to be nothing more than a pipe dream at this point, the logical thing for Hextall to do would be to trade him, right? Unfortunately, that shipped sailed pretty much after the draft concluded. The Flyers have postseason aspirations heading into the 2018-19 regular season. Dealing Simmonds for what would most likely be future assets does not get Philadelphia any closer to this goal. Simmonds assists in providing a level of depth at the forward position that the Flyers have not had in quite some time. If he can contribute 30-plus goals like he’s capable of doing, the team should be in the playoff discussion. The only way Simmonds gets sent packing is if the wheels have completely come off by the trade deadline. That’s a scenario we know is always possible, but hope doesn’t come to fruition.
This, of course, leaves us with one more outcome for the Wayne Simmonds saga. Whether you like it or not, Simmonds is most likely going to play the entirety of the regular season and playoffs wearing orange and black. Then, to the displeasure of many, he will follow the money elsewhere during the offseason. When you think about it and place personal feelings to the side, it is the conclusion that makes the most sense.
At first, this will be a tough pill to swallow for a lot of the Flyers fanbase. There are very few people who follow or cheer for the team that do not adore Simmonds and what he brings to the ice each and every night. When you top it off with getting nothing in return for his departure, it will seem like Philadelphia has completely lost this ordeal.
In reality, times are changing for the Flyers franchise. The youth movement is in full swing, and these young players are turning into promising NHL players right before our eyes. Committing a lot of money and years to an aging power forward doesn’t quite fit into everything else that is occurring. Philadelphia will surely miss Wayne Simmonds, but the team will ease the minds of many as they transform into legitimate Cup contenders for years to come.
**Photo Credit – Heather Barry©**