No doubt about it, the Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the most disappointing teams this season. It’s been a season to forget for the struggling Flyers. Aside from the emergence of rookie goaltender Carter Hart, there hasn’t been much for Flyers fans to get excited about this season. The team is in 30th place, has had their general manager and long time franchise icon fired and their head coach has also be fired. The team’s new GM, former Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, has yet to make a significant move to help the team. In other words… it’s getting ugly.
Whether he wants to or not Fletcher will be forced to make a decision regarding pending unrestricted free agent Wayne Simmonds. The 30 year old power forward is in the final year of a contract that pays him just $3.97 million per season and could command as much as $6 million or more per season on a new deal. So, does Fletcher keep Simmonds or does he trade him ahead of the NHL’s February 25th trade deadline?
“I think it’s probably more likely than not that Wayne Simmonds gets traded, but it’s not an absolutely slam dunk and the door is still open for Philadelphia to try and sign him,” said TSN and NBC analyst Bob McKenzie. “Listen, things have not gone well for the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s an absolute disaster, is what it is, versus what they thought they were going to be this year.”
Read below for McKenzie’s full take on Simmonds and what his future could mean for the Flyers:
Teams are calling Chuck Fletcher, the general manager of the Flyers right now, and saying, ‘What do you want to do with Simmonds.’
“Right now the teams are being told, ‘We’ll get back to you. We haven’t made a final decision on that just yet.’
“But the expectation is there’s going to be a lot of teams that call because there’s not many guys that can stand in front of the net on a power play like Wayne Simmonds that have the speed and the character and the tenacity and the size and strength and all of those things that go together with the skill-set that he’s got where he could be very much in demand.
“And the Philadelphia Flyers, I would suspect, are going to be busy between now and the deadline. They may be trading players for future considerations - draft picks and young players. They may be trading future considerations for more experienced players. It’s all about who’s under contract, how long it’s going to be.
“So we’ll see where the Simmonds thing goes. He’s going to be very much in demand.”
One place Simmonds could end up, according to McKenzie’s colleague Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic, is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Check out LeBrun's comments from a radio segment earlier today with Ottawa's TSN 1200:
“… if the Tampa Bay Lightning added a Wayne Simmonds - and I think back to the Eastern Conference Final where they really had no answer for Tom Wilson - I mean, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the world. They can score with their eyes blindfolded, and they’ve got a terrific defense, and arguably the top goalie in the world. I would say if you’re going to look for one little area to say, ‘Well, I think when the playoffs got tough last year, they could have used a little more muscle’ - Wayne Simmonds on Tampa is a scary proposition.”
No doubt that Simmonds would give the Bolts a weapon that they don’t currently have in their arsenal. Just imagine the space that the big man could open up on the power play by getting in front of the opposition’s goaltender.