Free agent winger Wayne Simmonds told Joshua Clipperton of The Canadian Press on Friday that he won’t continue his 15-season NHL career. The 35-year-old has yet to file retirement paperwork with the league but confirmed he will not attempt a comeback.
Simmonds last suited up in 2022-23, making 18 appearances with the Maple Leafs. The Scarborough, Ontario native reached UFA status after completing a two-year, $1.8MM extension signed with Toronto in June 2021.
He played for six NHL clubs during his career. The first of those was the Kings, who selected him with the final pick of the second round in the 2007 draft from the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack after racking up 49 points and 112 PIMs in 66 games.
Simmonds spent the following season back in junior hockey, breaking out for his first point-per-game campaign and winning gold with Canada at the 2008 World Junior Championship. That was enough of a development jump for the Kings, who named Simmonds to their opening-night roster in 2008-09.
The Kings struggled that season, finishing three games below .500 and scoring only 2.46 goals per game, but Simmonds’ rookie performance was promising. He didn’t earn Calder Trophy consideration, but he played in all 82 games while posting 23 points in a bottom-six role.
His sophomore season wasn’t his defining campaign, but it was a large step forward. The Kings offense went from 28th to seventh in 2009-10, and Simmonds’ 16 goals and 40 points (along with 116 PIMs) helped kickstart the jump. He finished with a team-high +22 rating, too, earning him a handful of Selke Trophy votes.
He took a small step back in the third and final season of his entry-level contract, though, seeing his goal and point output drop to 14 and 30, respectively. With the Kings exiting their late 2000s rebuild and looking to build a more veteran core around Anže Kopitar and Drew Doughty, they decided to cut bait with Simmonds and ship him, along with center prospect Brayden Schenn, to the Flyers in the 2011 offseason in exchange for established top-six threat Mike Richards.
The trade worked out well for the Kings, who won two Stanley Cups over the next three seasons with Richards anchoring their second line. It also worked out quite well for Simmonds, who scored 28 goals in his first season with Philadelphia and spent parts of eight years in the City of Brotherly Love.
With the Flyers, Simmonds became one of the most visible power forwards in the league, inking a six-year, $23.85MM extension within two years of the trade and eventually eclipsing the 30-goal mark twice. He racked up 203 goals, 175 assists and 378 points over his 584 games for the Flyers, consistently logging top-six minutes and serving an important leadership role, as evidenced by his Mark Messier Leadership Award win in his final season with the team.
As the extension wrapped up, though, it was clear Simmonds was in an early decline. His totals had steadily dropped since his 32-goal, 60-point season in 2015-16, and the Flyers decided to part ways with the fan-favorite near the 2019 trade deadline. They dealt him to the Predators, who were two years removed from a Stanley Cup Final appearance, but his play outside of Philadelphia stagnated further. He recorded one goal and three points in 17 games with Nashville after the trade and played in two of six games during their first-round loss to the Stars.
Simmonds spent the following four seasons playing for the Devils, Sabres and Maple Leafs in a reduced role, seeing his ice time dip below 10 minutes per game by the 2021-22 season. He was waived twice over the course of the 2022-23 campaign, recording two assists in 18 games to close out his career.
He ends his time in the NHL with 263 goals, 263 assists and 526 points, along with 1,313 PIMs, over the course of 1,037 games. He also added 22 points in 53 career playoff games.
PHR extends its best wishes to Simmonds in his post-hockey career and congratulations him on a lengthy and impactful NHL stint.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.