The Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the first teams to dip into the free agent market, signing veteran winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million according to Sportsnet’s Anthony Stewart.
The signing also includes a no movement clause.
Coming off a one-year, $5 million contract he signed with the New Jersey Devils last season, Simmonds is no longer the dominant power forward he once was. After back to back 30-goal seasons in 2015-16 and 2016-17, Simmonds’ offensive production has declined since then. It didn’t help that he was on two teams where he wasn’t in an environment to thrive with the Devils and then being traded to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Maple Leafs have been linked to Simmonds for quite some time now. He knows that his best days are behind him and now he can provide some leadership and compete level on a team that lacked those qualities for some time now. Similar to Patrick Maroon with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season where he helped them win the Stanley Cup.
What the Maple Leafs are Getting?
The Maple Leafs have lacked the grit and toughness that is needed in a deep playoff run. General manager Kyle Dubas recently expressed his desire for the Maple Leafs to add some size and to be tougher to play against. The Maple Leafs were ranked 28th in hits and there were times where they were pushed around quite a bit.
Simmonds brings that aggressive and physical style as well as the ability to chip in offensively, around 15-20 points, given that his production has diminished. While he projects to be a fourth-line player, Simmonds still has great speed that can catch other teams by surprise. It’s worth noting that he is a hometown boy and that he is excited about the opportunity to play for the Maple Leafs.
Given that he’s 32 years old and that he’s no longer a goal-scoring threat, this is great value given the role that the Maple Leafs want him to fill. He brings qualities on and off the ice but his physical play is something that Maple Leafs need. With Kyle Clifford heading to the market, the Maple Leafs found a cheap alternative to replace him. It’s a role that Simmonds is capable of handling and should do well on a young and skilled Maple Leafs team that needed some grit.
Hockey has been a big part of my life since watching my first Leafs game to currently coaching minor hockey. I previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. Aside from hockey, I also enjoy drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.