The Philadelphia Flyers hired Chuck Fletcher as their general manager on Monday in hopes that he can resuscitate the team. It will involve making a lot of tough decisions and changes to the roster, and the first order of business could have to do with pending unrestricted free agent Wayne Simmonds, whose future in Philly remains a big question mark.
Simmonds is playing out the final season of a six-year, $23.8 million contract he signed with the team back in August 2012. Ideally, Simmonds would like to remain in Philadelphia for the rest of his career, but it seemed that negotiations with former GM Ron Hextall weren't all that positive.
Many believe Simmonds is looking to sign a long-term contract in the neighborhood of six years that will take him into the final years of his career. The combination of the term and the salary cap made Hextall unsure about keeping the rugged forward in Philadelphia, however now, with a new GM in town, the negotiations will have to start over...
According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, the recent change in management will impact what happens next with Simmonds.
"Could Philadelphia’s GM change affect Wayne Simmonds ’s future? According to several sources, Hextall thought very highly of the powerful winger, but was unwilling to commit term to the 30-year-old. There are differing opinions on whether or not Simmonds was being shopped. Some said yes; others said Hextall preferred to wait and see if the Flyers stayed in the race. Now we’ll find out what Chuck Fletcher thinks," writes Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet.
Before he was fired, Hextall had admitted he hadn’t spoken to Simmonds' agent, Eustace King of O2K Management, since Nov. 1 when the Flyers were in Los Angeles to face the Kings. Fletcher will have to start the communication again, and hopefully, be able to find a resolution before the trade deadline in late February.
And this could mean to re-sign the forward or... to trade him elsewhere.
John Boruk of NBC Sports however notes Fletcher recently said he believes culture “is very important in any organization to be successful.” This is the type of attitude that could work in Simmonds’ favor. Depending on where the next talks will lead them, Fletcher could also see the benefit in trading the veteran winger to make the Flyers "a more well-rounded team defensively."