Could the Flyers Reunite with Wayne Simmonds?
It’s been a busy offseason already for the Flyers and things could get busier in the coming days.
The Flyers opened the week with two moves, first re-signing defenseman Travis Sanheim to a two-year, $6.5 million deal, then trading forward Ryan Hartman to Dallas for forward Tyler Pitlick. The two moves leave the Flyers with $17.1 million in cap space with less than a week until free agency opens and a long to-do list still to go.
They still have to sign Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny to new deals that won’t be cheap. They have to sign restricted free agents Scott Laughton and Justin Bailey. They have to sign a backup goalie, whether Cam Talbot or Brian Elliott or someone else. And they still have an opening at third-line wing.
To start, you have to look at why this is even possible. During draft weekend, the Predators made it known that they were not bringing Simmonds back following the trade deadline move to acquire him for Hartman, who ironically was dealt to Dallas on Monday. That means Simmonds will hit the open market.
Simmonds had 16 goals and 11 assists in 62 games with the Flyers last season. Following the trade, Simmonds scored just one goal and had three points in 17 games with the Predators.
It’s no secret that Simmonds had tremendous success in the past with the Flyers. In each of the previous five seasons, Simmonds had scored at least 24 goals.
There is certainly a chance that Simmonds, who will turn 31 on Aug. 26, could be no different than any of the other veterans the Flyers have added and primed for a potential bounce back season. Could that come in Philadelphia?
There are reasons to believe it’s at least a possibility. Simmonds loves the area and is heavily involved in the community. He just won the Mark Messier Leadership Award at the NHL Awards a week ago and continues to be an advocate for various community efforts. Simmonds was a respected leader in the Flyers locker room, forging a great bond with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek. Simmonds certainly has advocates with the Flyers who would make a case for him.
The biggest factor in something like this happening is the money. The Flyers don’t have a lot of cap space available for free agents and Simmonds is not worth $3.9 million per season anymore -- not after the production has started to fade and injuries have decimated his career. But if he were to take a significant pay cut to slot into the third line and could still be modestly productive at a value, he could still be a fit.
Now chances are that Simmonds is going to look for an offer that will be his pay day. His last contract was a six-year, $23.85 million deal and that was before he broke the 30-goal mark, became an All-Star and dominated on the power play in Philadelphia. If he pursues that, a return to the Flyers would likely become more of a fallback plan if the market is not there that a leading possibility.
There could very likely be a team out there who is willing to pay Simmonds a significant amount of money, certainly far more than the Flyers would offer, and that this never comes close to happening. But there is always that chance, and with the Flyers where they are with the cap and the roles they need filled among forwards, there is a chance Simmonds could be in the mix.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.