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Simmonds leaves behind admirable legacy

Posted by Eric Fisher On February 25

After giving the Flyers all he had for nearly eight seasons, Wayne Simmonds is leaving town. The Flyers traded Simmonds to the Predators before Monday afternoon’s trade deadline, receiving forward Ryan Hartman and a conditional 4th-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft in return.

The well-respected Simmonds, 30, was expendable because his contract expires at the end of this season, allowing him to leave as an unrestricted free agent. Negotiations with the Flyers did not result in a new contract, so the Flyers traded him rather than risk losing Simmonds without receiving anything for him.

Simmonds leaves the Flyers, who are seven points out of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, for the Predators, who are in second place in the Central Division in the Western Conference. The Predators also added 26-year-old forward Mikael Granlund (15 goals, 34 assits) from the Wild at the trade deadline.

When he joins the Predators, Simmonds will find a familiar face behind the bench. Predators head coach Peter Laviolette was the Flyers’ head coach during Simmonds first three seasons with the Flyers.

Simmonds was acquired from the Kings in 2011 a major trade that sent Flyers captain Mike Richards to the Kings in exchange for Simmonds, center Brayden Schenn and a second-round draft pick. Simmons doubled his goal total to 28 in his first year with the Flyers, and scored at least 24 goals in every full season he played with the Flyers. (He only played 45 games during his second season with the Flyers, scoring 15 goals.)

Power player

A big part of Simmonds’ production was the power play. With the exception of the season in which he only played 45 games, Simmonds scored at least 11 power play goals in his other seasons with the Flyers, although he may have had difficulty continuing that streak this season. One reason Simmonds is valuable to the Predators is they have the worst power play in the NHL.

Simmonds’ production has dropped this season. He has 16 goals and 11 assists in 62 games, continuing a downward trend in production since establishing career highs with 32 goals and 28 assists during the 2015-16 season. He only has five power play goals this season and has a team-worst minus-20 plus-minus ranking.

But Simmonds’ contributions can’t be measured simply by the numbers. He is a physical force who stands up for his teammates. When Anthony Mantha pushed Claude Giroux’s head into the boards from behind late in the third period of the first game of a home-and-home series with the Red Wings, it was Simmonds who challenged Mantha to a fight during the first minute of the next game.

Hartman, 24, has 10 goals and 10 assists this season in 64 games with the Predators. He was selected 30th overall by the Blackhawks in the 2013 NHL Draft. He can become a restricted free agent after this season, but his salary cap hit of $875,000 is $3 million less than Simmonds’ cap hit this season, so he will be easier to re-sign.

It’s also possible that Simmonds returns to the Flyers before his playing days are over. The Flyers certainly valued Simmonds’ contributions.

Memorable farewell

In case anyone needed a reminder of Simmonds’ value, in his final game as a Flyers, a 4-3 overtime triumph over the Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field, Simmonds knocked Brian Dumoulin, one of the Penguins’ top defensemen, out of the game with bone-rattling clean check. The check sparked a mini-melee that also knocked defenseman Kris Letang out of the game.

After the game, Simmonds’ teammates let him know their feelings in what would be his final game as a Flyer by giving him the player-of-the-game helmet, which was passed from captain Claude Giroux, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime, to Jakub Voracek to Simmonds.

Although the trade makes sense from a financial perspective, practically everyone is sorry to see Simmonds leave.

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