Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds is one of the more notable pending unrestricted free agents around the league. His playing style will be endearing to several contending teams as a rental player and even more in free agency. With that in mind, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported in an appearance on NBCSN (video link) that it’s “more likely than not” that Simmonds is dealt before next month’s trade deadline although there have been discussions regarding a potential extension in recent days as well.
The 30-year-old is on pace to surpass the 20-goal mark for the sixth straight season and is doing so while producing more at even strength than on the power play, something that hasn’t been the case in recent years. He also remains one of Philadelphia’s most physical players. However, that rugged playing style makes him a larger risk in terms of injuries and while that may not be as much of a concern for 2018-19, it will be when it’s time to give him a new contract.
Simmonds is in the final season of a team-friendly contract that carries a cap hit of $3.975MM (with a $5MM salary) and a 12-team no-trade clause. McKenzie noted that the expectation is that he’ll easily be able to surpass that salary on his next contract, suggesting that it could approach $6MM per year on a contract of around five years or longer. The Flyers have considerable payroll flexibility for next season and beyond but they also have several prominent young players in need of new deals within the next couple of years. By the time they earmark enough money to accomplish that and perhaps look to fill some other holes on the roster (perhaps including a veteran goaltender to help mentor Carter Hart), there may not be enough wiggle room for Philadelphia to keep Simmonds around on that type of contract.
Assuming that they indeed go the trade route, it will be interesting to see what type of return they covet. Given Simmonds’ contract and pedigree, GM Chuck Fletcher should have no trouble commanding a significant return. However, the standard around selling at this time of the year is draft picks and young prospects but despite their struggles this season, they’re a team that will be looking to get back into contention sooner rather than later. Accordingly, NHL-ready prospects could be coveted in the hopes that they can become a part of Philadelphia’s core in the near future. Either way, with Simmonds sitting as one of the top rentals on a team that isn’t looking to enter into a long-term rebuild, the Flyers are certainly going to be a team to watch for in the weeks to come.