June 29: The team has made the contract extension official, signing Simmonds for two years. The deal carries an average annual value of just $900K, a significant decrease from last year and a reasonable number for the veteran forward. The entire cap hit is low enough that it could be buried in the minor leagues if necessary, but Simmonds will likely play a key role in Toronto’s bottom-six for the next while.
June 28: The Toronto Maple Leafs had several veteran forwards scheduled for unrestricted free agency this summer, but not all of them will reach the open market. The team already signed Jason Spezza to another one-year extension, and now Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the team is working on a deal with Wayne Simmonds.
Simmonds, 32, played on a one-year, $1.5MM contract with the Maple Leafs this season, but ended up struggling to provide much excess value. Things started quite well, with five goals in his first 12 games, but then Simmonds suffered a fluke injury that resulted in a broken wrist. He would miss nearly six weeks before making his return, and managed just two goals and four points in the final 26 games. In Toronto’s seven-game playoff series against Montreal, Simmonds registered just a single assist.
Teammates throughout his career have raved about Simmonds’ leadership qualities and his ability to improve the dynamics of a locker room, but those things are extremely difficult to quantify (especially when you consider that the veteran forward has never been on a team with much playoff success). The Maple Leafs obviously believe in his ability to help them get over that hump though, and certainly, for a near-minimum salary, it would make some sense. Toronto continues to need to navigate the salary cap carefully thanks to their expensive forward talent, meaning low-risk deals for players like Spezza and Simmonds are likely to come every offseason.