Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Marc Siciliano on 08/03/11 at 05:09 PM ET
If you had asked an LA Kings fan who they would have wanted to trade a few months ago, it’s all but assured that few would have quickly volunteered the name of Wayne Simmonds to be at the top of the list. And while I’m sure Kings fans are pleased with the return they received for the feisty winger, I’m equally as sure they are sad to see him go.
Welcome to the Flyers, Wayne Simmonds.
Yup, you’ll fit in here.
Simmonds enters Philadelphia already three-years deep into his NHL career, though he turns a measly 23 years of age exactly three weeks from Friday. With 160 games of NHL experience under his belt and a brief taste of the playoffs, you’re hard pressed to find a younger guy with as much experience as him, providing him a solid foundation to build from with his new team.
His playoff performance in April was very much an epitome of his regular season - he held his own, though he was probably asked to do a bit too much. Against a much deeper San Jose Sharks team on a mission, he was able to provide some spark when the team was in need, but resistance was futile and ultimately the Kings went on to lose the series.
Much like some of his new teammates, he’ll arrive in training camp playing for a contract in the following year. He fits the mold of what seems to be the overall theme of the Flyers this season (/season preview spoiler’d), and looks to take a step forward in his progression after a season that his former head coached dubbed a “half a step backwards”
He enters a rather ideal situation for a player such as himself. He represents the perfect third-line player who can substitute into a second-line role sparingly when needed without being too out of place – but that’s ok, because he shouldn’t really be asked to do that with the Flyers this season. His role is much like that of Talbot, just with a much higher ceiling for increased production and responsibility.
Simmonds is a defensively capable guy who can also get some time on the PK, which is a very likely scenario this season. If Schenn does indeed hold onto the third-line center role he could forge an interesting partnership with Simmonds depending on how Schenn settles in offensively. Increased production from Simmonds (though not necessarily expected) could go a long way in helping offset the perceived lack of offense the Flyers may face next season.
Thus far in his career, the lack of tangible production has made no difference on his staying power. His offensive shortcomings are offset by his grittiness, and that is not likely to change any time soon. Simmonds is the guy that everyone likes to have on their team, and he looks to relish that role in Philadelphia. He’s a hard-working kid, capable of dropping the gloves, getting under your skin, making a good play and putting the puck in the net when it matters. In the end, what more could you ask for?
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