Valentine’s Day has passed, so what better way to mend a broken heart than by seeing one of your favourite players shipped out of town…With the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, one of the bigger names likely to be moved is pending UFA, Philadelphia Flyer’s veteran winger Wayne Simmonds.
Depending on your roster he’d likely slot in on the second or third line and would provide teams a reliable presence, a proven playoff contributor (21pts in 42 gms) with a physical edge to his game belying his size. So, who among the possible playoff bound would most likely be in need of his services?
Toronto: A Toronto native, many in Leafs nation would no doubt be happy to see him don the Blue and White, but with their cap situation it’d most certainly be a rental. While their forward group could use his sandpaper come playoff time, especially in what looks like another match up with Boston, it wouldn’t address their biggest need on the back end. Though I’d pay good money to hear Dubas and Babcock debate his skill set and what he’d bring to the team…
Boston: This seems almost too logical. He’s a physical presence with some offensive upside and punches above his weight class, in other words a prototypical Bruin’s player who could suitably fill in the gap as a top six the winger left by Rick Nash’s departure.
Montreal: GM Marc Bergevin has made it clear he’s not dolling out the kind of money for rentals he normally reserves for suits, so it’s unlikely they pay up to add him. While the Habs speedy, but small line up could use his net front presence, the recent re-acquisition of Dale Weiss plus Nate Thompson has in theory shored up their fourth line, so what other move he makes may be more akin to small tweaks rather than big splashes.
Tampa Bay: The Lightning seem to have it all and are running away with the President’s Trophy. That said, you can never have enough depth come playoff time and Simmonds and the Rangers Kevin Hayes have been rumoured targets. However, according to insiders they seem to be more interested in adding a right handed shot to the blue line, though those of us in Sens Army won’t cross our fingers for a Ceci for Kucherov deal anytime soon…
Washington: The Caps won the Stanley Cup last year because they had a great mix of skill, speed and physicality. While no one would ever mistake Simmonds as the fleetest of foot, he combines the other two elements like few others. Question is, who would they move out of the lineup to make room?
Pittsburgh: Jim Rutherford is essentially the mad scientist of NHL GM’s and stands pat as if he had ants in his pants. He already made deals already to acquire Tanner Pearson from LA, and Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann from Florida and their window is as long as Crosby and Malkin are around, so adding more depth to his forward core certainly wouldn’t be out of the question. However, a deal with their bitterest of rivals may be.
Columbus: Don’t they have bigger issues to worry about….?
NY Islanders: The surprise story of the year, the Islanders are a writing feel good narrative. Now, does that mean they mortgage some of their future to try and make an unexpected run? For a team that’s had more arenas than playoff success of late you’d think they’d jump at the opportunity, and they well could. They have a generally unproven playoff roster, including goalies Robin Lehner and Tomas Greiss, and head coach Barry Trotz would no doubt covet a player of his skill set.
Carolina: The Canes are right there in the Wild Card hunt and we know owner Tom Dundon seems to have ordered his pack of ‘jerks’ to have success by any means necessary, so adding some experienced depth upfront could be a way to go. That said they’re a young team and may be looking for a player with some term left on his contract *cough, Nylander, cough*. However, with the race this tight, and as a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in a long time, they may want to ride that storm surge simply to get an invite to the party.
Winnipeg: They Jets made a splash last season shelling out for the Blues Paul Stastny, and have been linked to the likes of the Senators Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and home grown product Mark Stone. This kind of big move should put them over the top in the West, and certainly would cost more than Simmonds, but he could be a suitable backup plan if they can’t land a big fish.
Nashville: David Poile isn’t shy when it comes to swinging a deal and Nashville’s window won’t last forever with this core, so perhaps a depth forward could be that difference maker. A team that’s lacked depth scoring in playoffs past could use him, as one would hardly consider the re-acquisition of Cody McLeod sufficient in that department. Furthermore his presence would be welcomed in the Western Conference which generally plays out like a meat grinder.
Calgary: The Flames high octane offence can score goals, and they have a decent amount of size up front. Matthew Tkachuk is of a similar mould to Simmonds with more skill, and though James Neal hasn’t paid dividends yet, he’s a proven playoff performer, so time will tell. Plus, last I checked Simmonds didn’t play net, so he may not be on the agenda.
Las Vegas: For a brand new team, they’re not shy about introducing themselves into seemingly every free agent, or mega deal conversation. The Golden Knights have the assets to part with should they so choose, but as with everything in Vegas they want it to be bigger, more eye catching, meaning if they tried acquiring him it’d suggest the likes of Stone and Duchene slipped through their fingers.
San Jose: The Sharks loaded up on the back end in the off season trading for Erik Karlsson and are looking like the real deal in the West. Their subpar goaltending has been a disappointment, and somewhat surprising, so that’s likely to be of bigger concern to GM Doug Wilson, but Simmonds could help bolster their bottom six and finally get the Sharks over the top.
St. Louis: After what was a surprisingly horrible start to the campaign, worthy of a Blues song, their coach was fired and rumours of a tear down spread like wild fire, St. Louis have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams since the new year in large part due to their best players stepping up and solid goaltending from Jordan Biddington. GM Doug Armstrong may want to leave well enough alone here, or risk hitting a sour note.
Vancouver: The Canucks were, well, not really supposed to be here. They have a young roster than most felt would be better than last year but not yet ready to compete in the West. Well, some kid named Pettersson doesn’t care for your half assed predictions and he and the Canucks find themselves in the thick of the Wild Card race. However, giving up valuable assets just to try and sneak in, while the potential playoff experience would be helpful, seems a bit desperate, so Jim Benning and co. would probably be best advised to stay the course with their rebuild, as they look to be a force in the Pacific for years to come.
Dallas: The Stars have a talented roster full of skilled guys, and a leader in Jamie Benn who isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas, or drop the gloves. Simmonds could fit in well if they feel they’re in need of some more physical play to supplement the rest of their less scrappy high end talent, and perhaps provide a net front presence on the power play, as they try and hold onto a playoff spot.
Minnesota: The Wild have an older roster and lost Captain Mikko Koivu for the remainder of the season to a knee injury. Their two other stars are ageing and, while still productive, have significant term left on their contracts. GM Paul Fenton’s group is clinging desperately to the last Wild Card spot, and sliding, in the west at the moment, but this roster is in flux, and going to need some turn over. Bringing in a rental when they should be looking to add pieces for the future may not be the best idea. Though standing pat simply gives Bruce Boudreau something else to complain about…
Colorado: The Good: The Avs top line of Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen is one of if not the best in hockey and has the Avs in the playoff hunt. The Bad: Everything else… The Ugly: The Avs had a great start to the campaign and look like they would slot into at least a Wild Card in the west. However things went downhill faster than well, you get the idea, and now they find themselves buried under several teams trying to get in. A trade to add some much needed depth scoring could help, but at this point, with a young, rebuilding, team and what will be a very high first round pick, thanks to a team who shall remain nameless, in their back pocket, is it worth the hefty price?
Chicago: Every time I think they’re out, they pull me back in…The Blackhawks had been written off by most, especially after firing the much beloved coach Q, and while they still have a shot at the playoffs it would take an impressive run. That said, with the talent they have, and their experience they can’t be counted out just yet. Could Simmonds be a depth piece to push them into a Wild card spot? Possibly. But with their cap situation, and a need to replenish the roster with younger, less expensive assets, trading them away for a rental may set them back further in the long run.
Arizona: Carolina west. They haven’t been in the playoffs for years and are desperate to get back in. Their core group has carried them into the thick of the Wild Card race, so GM John Chayka adding some help would be a sign of confidence in the roster and perhaps a much needed shot in the arm, as well as a signal to the fan base they’re trying to win. Or they simply squander another season until it’s time to head to Houston…