For the first time in almost eight seasons, the Philadelphia Flyers played a game without Wayne Simmonds in the organization. It brought an end to an era of sorts for the Flyers. The last time they played without Simmonds was the 2010-2011 season. It was going to be different moving forward.
A deadline deal trade sent the 30-year-old forward to the Nashville Predators. In return, the Flyers acquired Ryan Hartman and a conditional draft pick. The team then took the ice on Tuesday night, over 24 hours after Simmonds departure. On the surface, the Flyers took care of business in an important game. Underneath it all, the trade of Wayne Simmonds was a painful one. But it was something the Flyers needed to do.
Trading Wayne Simmonds Was A Necessary Move
One could say Wayne Simmonds was the heart and soul of the Philadelphia Flyers. He embodied what it meant to put on the orange and black jersey night after night. So, rightfully so, moving on would be hard to do.
Simmonds came to the organization during the summer of 2011. It was a big move for the Flyers at the time as they traded away their captain Mike Richards. Richards had signed a 10-year contract in 2007. Simmonds had just finished his third season in the NHL and was coming off a contract worth just $525,000. He had yet to reach the 20-goal mark and had a career-high 40 points.
Simmonds broke out in his first season with the Flyers, though. He broke career highs, putting up 28 goals and 49 points. 16 goals had been his previous high. Simmonds would consistently reach the 20-goal mark in six of his eight seasons with the Flyers. He was only five goals away in the lockout-shortened season and four away this season.
He reached 60 points twice and recorded back-to-back 30-goal seasons between 2015-16 and 2016-17. The last two seasons, however, took a toll on Simmonds as he dealt with numerous injuries.
Injury Filled Seasons
Simmonds kicked off the 2017-18 season with a hat trick against the San Jose Sharks. It seemed it would be full steam ahead. That would not be the case, however. Simmonds would deal with a handful of injuries throughout the season. He had a torn groin, lost teeth, broke his ankle and tore a ligament in his hand. He only missed seven games, however.
Despite only missing seven games, it was clear that Simmonds was fighting to make it through the season. He posted his lowest goal total since his last season with the Kings in 2010-11. The points dropped significantly, as he finished with 46 points in 75 games. Not counting the lockout-shortened season, that was his lowest in a Flyers uniform.
This season was rough as well as Simmonds was posting the lowest points-per-game pace of his career. Despite all of that, Wayne Simmonds continued to show the leadership and passion that fans had fallen in love with. None more than in his last few games as a Flyer.
Standing up for Claude Giroux, Simmonds dropped the gloves with Anthony Mantha in the second game of a back-to-back. Simmonds again set a tone when he laid a huge hit on Brian Dumoulin during the Stadium Series.
It was almost the perfect way for Wayne Simmonds to say goodbye to Philadelphia.
Re-Signing Simmonds Would Have Been Wrong
The Flyers lost a huge part of their organization, there is no way around that. But it was fair to get assets in return for a player who would likely not be re-signing with the team in the offseason. Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic pointed out why re-signing Simmonds would not have been the right move.
It’s situations like this where you wish the NHL was still in a pre-salary cap era. In the current system, the Flyers would be wrong to re-sign him to the deal he wants. But Simmonds would be wrong not to go out & get that money elsewhere. It’s his last chance at a big payday.
— Charlie O’Connor (@charlieo_conn) February 24, 2019
This is likely Simmonds’ last chance to get a big payday. The Flyers are not in the right position to offer that to him. With players such as Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, etc. on the way, giving Simmonds the money he likely will fetch was not an option. Simmonds’ six-year extension back in 2013 was a very team-friendly deal. The cap hit was just under $4M.
The Flyers were unlikely to agree with Simmonds on another deal like that. And it would be wrong of Simmonds to take a hometown type discount to stay. There is always a chance he comes back as a free agent. He deserves to get his payday, though. While the Flyers lost a big part of the team, they did get a younger and more effective even strength player in return.
New Kid On The Block
Ryan Hartman did not get into Philadelphia until 2:00 am on Tuesday morning. He would take the ice after his physicals for the morning skate. He would then play just over 14 minutes in the game that night. Hartman wouldn’t get his first full practice until Wednesday. But he welcomed himself to the Philadelphia fan base on Tuesday night.
Hartman is not Simmonds and he does not plan on trying to be him. But he did set a big tone during his first shift. Hartman laid a huge hit on Rasmus Dahlin and then wrestled with Zach Bogosian afterward.
Welcome to Philadelphia, Ryan Hartman!
The crowd goes wild after he throws a huge hit on Dahlin. pic.twitter.com/d6DJtunKbQ
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 27, 2019
Hartman thrived during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks. He put up 31 points in 76 games in his rookie season in 2016-17. He followed that up with 25 points in 57 games the following year before he was traded to the Predators mid-season.
Things never seemed to click there, however. In 85 games, Hartman had just 13 goals and 26 points with the Predators. His time on ice dropped quickly this season and the points came very rarely. Hartman has just seven points since the calendar year began, a stretch of 25 games.
While a lot was left to be desired in Nashville, that does not mean Hartman won’t be able to bounce back in a new system. If he plays the way he did on Tuesday night, there should be nothing to worry about.
Embed from Getty Images