Three and a half years ago, Los Angeles made a huge splash right before the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, trading their 1st round pick, 13th overall, goaltender Martin Jones, and defensive prospect Colin Miller to the Boston Bruins for 26 year old Milan Lucic.
Coming off of a 55 point campaign with the Bruins, Lucic was a hot commodity. With one year left on his deal worth $6 million per year, Lucic was considered a bargain. Picking up a forward with scoring capability was well worth the cost the Los Angeles Kings paid for the physical forward, and his ability to be the “tough guy” was an added bonus.
Enter Wayne Simmonds.
The Wayne train has drawn comparisons to Lucic in more ways than one. Both are highly capable scorers, and have the ability to answer the bell if need be, with sometimes devastating results. Both skaters have put up at least 60 points twice in their careers, Lucic topping 50 points five times in his career, and Simmonds doing the same 4 times over.
With the trade winds blowing once again, Simmonds’ name is a hot topic of conversation. The powerful two-way forward is a prime candidate to move at or before the 3PM trade deadline of February 25th of the upcoming year. With an AAV of only $3.975 million, Simmonds is the perfect rental player for a team right on the cusp of contending for a Stanley Cup.
However, a decline in his stats over the past few years may not net the return the Flyers once could have garnered for the 30 year old winger.
When Lucic was dealt by the Bruins just prior to the NHL draft, he was coming off of a 27 point campaign in a lockout-shortened season, 59 point campaign in 2013-14, and a 44 point performance the year prior to being traded. Wayne Simmonds is coming off of his worst, albeit injury-plagued, season with the Flyers, amassing just 24 goals and 22 assists for a Flyers career low of 46 points. His point totals have declined over the past 3 seasons, going from tying a career high in 2015-16 with 60 points, to 54 points the next season, and tallying just 46 points last year.
Wayne Simmonds’ trade value has indeed taken a hit with his underwhelming performance so far this season as well. Simmer has 11 goals, 5 assists, for 16 points thus far, and is on pace for 26 goals, 12 assists, for 38 points, his lowest points total since his last season with the Los Angeles Kings in 2010-11. If the Flyers and new general manager Chuck Fletcher are listening to deals for the winger, other teams are surely using his decreasing stats as a bargaining chip, trying to pluck Simmer for a much lower quality deal than the team could have a few years ago when he was at his peak in point production.
What once could have been a trade comparable to, if not better than, the Lucic deal is fizzling out due to a lack of production on Simmonds’ part. Boston made out like a bandit, at the time of the Lucic deal, grabbing a goaltender in Martin Jones who has a career .914 save percentage and 2.40 goals against average. Boston later flipped Jones for the pick they lost in the LA deal, and Martin Jones has been a San Jose Shark ever since. Colin Miller never really had time to develop into the defenseman he has become with the Vegas Golden Knights. Boston left him exposed in the expansion draft and Vegas ended up snagging him. The first round pick was spent on defenseman Jakub Zboril, who is still with the Bruins AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins.
The Flyers could have ended up with a haul similar to, if not better, than the Lucic deal. A first rounder, NHL ready goaltender, and prospect would have been a decent return for a top-6 winger on a bargain of a contract. Now, a deal similar to Lucic’s is nothing but a pipe dream. The Flyers would be lucky to get a first round pick for Simmonds, even if Ron Hextall were still the general manager.
Time is not on the Flyers’ side if they are looking to deal Simmonds either. With the trade deadline looming, Fletcher may be forced to make a deal to get something in return for Simmonds. He may also be kicking around the idea of resigning him, so a trade may not be in the cards. The next month or so should be very telling in regards to what direction the team is heading, and if Wayne Simmonds figures to be a part of the Flyers moving forward.
Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports