When Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall elected to sign unrestricted free agent forward James van Riemsdyk to a massive five year, $35 million contract on July 1st, most fans and media analysts believed it signalled an end to Wayne Simmonds’ time within the organization. After all, both van Riemsdyk and Simmonds play a similar style role for the team, but with JVR locked up long term and with Simmonds needing a new deal past the 2018-19 season, something’s got to give.
Simmonds is slated to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent next offseason, nut expect Hextall to extend an offer to Simmonds’ camp long before things get to that point.
“We’d like to sign [Simmonds],” Hextall told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday. “Whether we can or not, I don’t have the answer to that.”
Hextall admitted that negotiations could continue into the 2018-19 season, but that he doesn’t expect negotiations to impact Simmonds’ play. “[Simmonds’] got the character that something like that is not going to affect him, not going to affect the team,” he said.
Simmonds’ six year, $23+ million deal expires next offseason, after which point he’ll be free to sign with any team he so chooses, failing an extension beforehand with the Flyers. The 29 year old native of Scarborough, Ontario put up 24 goals and 46 points in 75 games for the Flyers last season, but it’s clear that a nasty shoulder injury was keeping him from putting up more points. He’s just two seasons removed from his career high of 32 goals and 60 points, which the Flyers feel confident he can get back to in 2018-19 and beyond.
The real question now is, what’s Simmonds worth? The Flyers’ currently have nearly $14 million in cap space for the upcoming season, but they’ll need to plan new contracts for emerging stars Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov next offseason. Rookie Nolan Patrick is also eligible to sign an extension next offseason.
No doubt that Simmonds will be pointing to JVR’s new deal as an example for his own next deal with the Flyers. Whether or not both Simmonds and the Flyers are on the same page however, remains to be seen.