The good news: Wayne Simmonds was the most consistent Philadelphia Flyers forward. The bad news: It wasn’t Claude Giroux or Jake Voracek, who make over double the amount Simmonds makes and are the supposed stars.
That’s been a common pattern lately, but last season showed it fully. Simmonds may have finished fourth in scoring on the Flyers, but he led in goals with 31 and produced on more than just the power play.
But Simmonds is also one of the most valuable man advantage players on the Flyers due to his work in front of the net. In fact, he’s one of — if not — the best players in the entire league working in front of the opposition’s goalie.
On top of that, Simmonds took on penalty killing duties also and excelled there, helping to bring an offensive weapon after Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde. He may see time there again this season.
It’s hard to point out a specific time of last season when Simmonds was playing at the top of his game or at the bottom of it going through a cold streak. Consistent hard-working efforts are a trait of his every game.
Simmonds will be in the top six — or at least on a line that plays top six minutes — but depending on chemistry, he’s bound to have different linemates week-to-week just like last season.
This year is huge for Simmonds. On July 1, 2018, he can begin negotiating with the Flyers on a contract extension. He may make a modest $3.97 million per season now, but that won’t be the case come the 2019-20 season.
The issue is that Philly has plenty of forward prospects that would be cheaper and Simmonds will be 31 years old by the time the 2019-20 season rolls around. This season is huge for the 6-foot-2 winger to prove he’s worth the money.
But there should be no doubt that Simmonds can prove that this season. As noted before, he’s too consistent and valuable. Finding a guy who can score 30 goals, play in front of the net and reliable enough defensively to kill penalties is almost impossible to come by.
As for this season, Simmonds will likely find himself playing with some youngsters like Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick and Jordan Weal. Besides his own on-ice contributions, Simmonds will help guide some young players along.
As an alternate captain and part of the leadership group, that shouldn’t be an issue for Simmonds.
Over the past four seasons, the Owen Sound Attack product has bounced between 50 and 60 points every year. This year shouldn’t be any different and depending on if some of the other forwards rebound, Simmonds could have a career year in store.
But even if he doesn’t he’ll be one of Philadelphia’s most valuable players.