By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Let me preface this by saying that you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger Wayne Simmonds fan than yours truly.
From the moment I saw Simmonds break into the league with the Los Angeles Kings, I knew this was a player that any team would be lucky to have. He’s the gamer of gamers, and his style is one that would fit right into any system. He’s since scored 187 goals and 351 points in 522 games donning Flyer Orange, and has turned himself into one of the game’s best scorers. With a lethal touch from the high-danger areas of the rink, too. In fact, Simmonds has recorded at least 24 goals in five straight seasons in Philly, and his 144 goals since 2013 rank as the 15th-most in the NHL.
Simmonds has done this on a highly-affordable contract paying him a modest $3.975 million per year. There’s getting your money’s worth and then there’s what the Flyers have been able to squeeze out of the 6-foot-2 winger.
Oh and the Flyers, by the way, are reportedly willing to listen to trade offers for the 29-year-old ahead of Friday’s NHL Draft.
Predictably, this made everybody that’s ever watched a single Simmonds shift to scream that this is something that the Bruins absolutely must get it on, as he represents a clear upgrade over the other options both on the trade and free agent market.
But this is actually a player that the Bruins should probably stay away from via trade.
Now, this all begins with some confusion with what the Flyers are actually doing with Simmonds.
While our eyes will always happily light up upon any and all trade rumor talk, it doesn’t sound as if they are actively shopping Simmonds, but rather testing the open waters of the trade market to see what teams would be willing to give up for a one-year rental. This is something that absolutely plays a factor in any trade talk. Especially when considering the fact that the Flyers were a playoff team a year ago and have the pieces with development paths that should continue to make Philly a postseason threat next year. The Flyers really don’t have to move a proven scorer, and you can make the case that it would actually be a mistake. It’s the Flyers, too, and the expectation is still to win — or compete at the very least — as is almost always the case.
Your finest assorted garbage will not get a deal done.
And given the ask for the Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner, a player with similar production, you would have to believe that the requested return from the Flyers in any Simmonds trade would center around a future first-round draft pick, a prospect, and/or an NHL-ready young gun on an affordable deal. That’s a lot for the Bruins to part with, and it’s admittedly hard to see Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, the youth movement’s biggest fan, parting with a first-round pick in back-to-back years.
This is also something that the Bruins shouldn’t feel the need to do.
If the Bruins strike out on Ilya Kovalchuk, Rick Nash is there as their backup option. And if the Bruins strike out on both Kovalchuk and Nash, which seems as unlikely a scenario as can be for a Boston squad with at least $12 million to play with offseason, then you should almost resign yourself to Year 2 of the youth movement. That’s because Sweeney and the Bruins have an abundance of young forwards — Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen all impressed to varying degrees at the NHL level a season ago and Trent Frederic, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jack Studnicka, and more are on the way sooner than you’d think — making overspending for a luxury completely unnecessary.
In essence, the Bruins should not be in the business of losing anything besides cap space to address their forward group. If they’re moving kids, picks, and more for an upgrade via trade this summer, it absolutely must be for the left-handed top-four defenseman Sweeney’s scoured the hockey world for over the last four offseasons. If it’s not, it’s a mere lateral move.
But let’s say the Black and Gold’s well thought out free agent plans take a nosedive and they’re left holding the bag.
Is Simmonds then a perfect fit for the Bruins? Nope, sorry.
For every positive you can take from Simmonds’ production in Philadelphia, there’s the dark cloud looming over his game. He’s 29, and his punishing brand of hockey does not age well. Simmonds already experienced — and played through — this just this past season, as he muscled through a broken ankle, torn pelvis, lost six teeth (that’s just bad luck) and torn thumb ligaments.
Simmonds is expected to return at full health next season, and maybe this was just a year of black cats and walking under ladders, but what if it doesn’t get better and you’ve traded youthful assets and picks for a less effective Simmonds? What if the slowdown comes just in time for his game to fall off a cliff and just in time for him to make a lot more than he is right now?
The Bruins have already learned the hard way how far south it can go once speed goes and how quickly injuries can make it all spiral out of control — Milan Lucic, Matt Beleskey, and now David Backes are some examples of Boston power forwards turned anchors — and adding another to the mix would be disastrous and an inexcusable lack of learning lessons from past mistakes.
I take no pleasure in this development, either. It just plain breaks my heart, to be honest.
If only because there once was a time for the Bruins to trade for Simmonds. One where the Bruins could maximized the effectiveness of Simmonds and at the aforementioned price that would’ve made the B’s the envy of the league.
But that time has since passed.
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.