Linked to the Maple Leafs in the rumour mill for the majority of his NHL career, 32-year-old Scarborough native Wayne Simmonds is coming home to Toronto on a one-year, $1.5 million contract (No Trade Clause included).
Simmonds spent most of last season — prior to a strange deadline trade to Buffalo — playing on the New Jersey Devils’ third line and on the power play as a net-front presence, tallying eight goals and 24 points in 61 games. Five goals of his eight goals came by way of the man advantage. It’s a far cry from his days as a perennial 30-goal threat in Philadelphia, but the contract value fairly reflects that — and “The Wayne Train” has taken an additional discount on his market value, reportedly, in order to pursue a Cup in his hometown (the Canadiens were said to be interested, and based on the contract they just gave Josh Anderson, almost certainly offered more money).
Always a clunky skater with sloppy mechanics, the 6’2, 205 pound Simmonds has lost a step or two, and whether Simmonds can elevate in the lineup to complement one of the Leafs’ scoring lines effectively at times when the Leafs need a spark remains to be seen. There is reason to doubt he could or should spend any significant time there, but the occasional shift up when the Leafs are flat — or looking to set a tone to start a game off the opening faceoff — is a possibility for Sheldon Keefe.
Additionally, the Leafs‘ second power-play unit — with its top unit loaded up with Morgan Rielly, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner — has largely been an afterthought, so whether he can make much of an impact there remains to be seen. That will be a job for new power-play coach Manny Malhotra to sort out; one option is to balance out the two units a little more and pop Simmonds into the net-front role on PP1, but he may well be limited to net-front duty on unit #2. While his feet are heavy, Simmonds’ nose for the net and hands in tight allowed him to average 30 goals a season between 2011-2017.
All of the above-mentioned concerns are mitigated by the fact that this contract is affordable and low risk at one-year, $1.5 million. And what Simmonds can definitely offer is a lot of jam, determination, nastiness, willingness to drop the gloves, net-front presence, and another veteran presence/voice in the room at the bottom of the lineup — and someone who is starting to hear the clock tick, with real urgency to him about winning a Cup, similar to Jason Spezza. The Leafs are hoping this is a Patrick Maroon-to-St. Louis type of add for them.
Simmonds has also won the Mark Messier leadership award in the past, and with many much-needed conversations happening around fighting racism in the sport of hockey this past summer, he should be an excellent ambassador for the organization.
On the ice, with Simmonds’ limitations especially, this addition alone isn’t going to solve the Leafs’ need to become more battled-hardened and playoff-ready, but he unquestionably gives the Leafs’ third or fourth-line and team culture a shot in the arm and can be one part of the bigger puzzle in the Leafs’ pursuit, as described by GM Kyle Dubas’, to become “incredibly hard to play against.”
"Anything happens to the boys, I'll be the first to jump in." —Wayne Simmonds, Maple Leaf
Jersey sales just went through the roof.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) October 9, 2020
The Leafs also looked into returning Kyle Clifford into this role, but Clifford is said to be looking for more term than what the Leafs snagged Simmonds for.
Wayne Simmonds, to @Sportsnet, on signing with his hometown Maple Leafs: "I'm born and raised in Scarborough, a proud Torontonian: "I think this was a perfect fit."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 9, 2020
Wayne Simmonds Scouting Report
A few years old, via McKeen’s Hockey:
Wayne Simmonds Advanced Stats: SKATR, RAPM, A3Z
Wayne Simmonds Video Highlights
Wayne Simmonds Statistics
|2003-04||Toronto Aeros U16 AA||GTHL U16 AA||-||-||-||-||-|||||-|
|2004-05||Toronto Jr. Canadiens U18 AAA||U18 AAA||67||32||40||72||97|||||-|
|Toronto Jr. Canadiens U18 AAA||GTHL U18||31||13||19||32||62|||||-|
|2006-07||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||66||23||26||49||112||-10|||||Playoffs||4||1||1||2||4||-9|
|2007-08||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||29||17||22||39||43||-8|||||-|
|2008-09||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||82||9||14||23||73||-8|||||-|
|2009-10||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||78||16||24||40||116||22|||||Playoffs||6||2||1||3||9||1|
|2010-11||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||80||14||16||30||75||-2|||||Playoffs||6||1||2||3||20||-1|
|Bili Tygri Liberec||Czech||6||4||2||6||16||-2|||||-|
|2014-15||Philadelphia Flyers “A”||NHL||75||28||22||50||66||-5|||||-|
|2015-16||Philadelphia Flyers “A”||NHL||81||32||28||60||147||-7|||||Playoffs||6||0||2||2||13||-1|
|2016-17||Philadelphia Flyers “A”||NHL||82||31||23||54||122||-18|||||-|
|2017-18||Philadelphia Flyers “A”||NHL||75||24||22||46||57||-16|||||Playoffs||6||0||2||2||6||0|
|2018-19||Philadelphia Flyers “A”||NHL||62||16||11||27||90||-20|||||-|
|2019-20||New Jersey Devils||NHL||61||8||16||24||64||-17|||||-|