The Toronto Maple Leafs apparently have significant interest in Wayne Simmonds, but what are the chances of them trading for the 2017 All-Star?
Despite the addition of Jake Muzzin, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still on the lookout for ways to improve the team between now and the Feb. 25 trade deadline. The question is, who else are they potentially targeting?
You could argue that the Leafs would still like to bring in more help for the blue line. Even with Muzzin now on the roster, this is still arguably the weakest link on the team.
Interestingly, however, the latest speculation has the Leafs linked to a forward rather than a defenceman. As reported by Sportsnet‘s Rory Boylen, Toronto apparently has significant interest in Wayne Simmonds.
Tip of the Tower colleague David Morassutti actually suggested a couple of months ago that the Leafs should consider a move for Simmonds. The question is, how likely is it to expect him to end up in Southern Ontario?
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There are several factors to consider, including wondering how much Toronto actually needs a player like Simmonds? The first argument which usually springs to mind in favour of trading for him, is his physical presence.
In truth though, while the addition of the winger would certainly “toughen” the Leafs up, you can argue the lack of physicality hasn’t impeded them so far this season. Yes, it couldn’t hurt, but it’s not a particularly pressing need.
The second factor is other teams who are theoretically also interested in Simmonds. When the news of the Leafs’ apparent interest in him was initially reported by Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, the only other team he specifically mentioned was the Tampa Bay Lightening.
Now, interest from the Lightening is tough enough for the Leafs to contend with. Why not join the best time in the NHL right now, with Simmonds still looking for his first Stanley Cup?
However, since Simmons’ tweet, more teams have now entered the fray. As per Boylen, this includes the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators.
Of course, there may well also be other teams interested in Simmonds too, that we just haven’t heard about yet. Regardless, there is enough competition for his services, to make it challenging for the Toronto Maple Leafs to come out on top.
The third factor which we should consider, is if the Philadelphia Flyers actually want to move Simmonds? Yes, they will listen to offers, but how much is their heart in it, when it actually comes to allowing their alternate captain to leave?
The Flyers’ position becomes more confusing, when considering the team’s recent form. They are edging their way back up the Eastern Conference standings after a run of eight consecutive wins, which was only stopped on Thursday night. (When they still managed to pick up a valuable point in a shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings.)
In reality though, we don’t see this being as big a factor as some may believe. The Flyers are still eight points out of a playoff spot entering Friday’s action and there is little chance of them continuing their recent hot streak for a considerable length of time.
Finally, we turn to the player himself. There is no denying that for the majority of his NHL career, Simmonds has been a hard-working, energetic, excellent two-way player.
However, the 30-year-old seems to have taken a step backwards this season. Apart from the simple eye test, this is also reflected in his points tally, which is on course to be his lowest in a full season since 2010-11. (We’re not including the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.)
As much as Simmonds’ leadership and work ethic could be an inspiration to some of the younger Leafs players, is there too much risk in trading for him at this stage of his career? If nothing else, at least his contract situation helps.
Consider that this is the last year of the Scarborough, Ontario native’s current deal. He becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season, so at least the Leafs could let him walk if he continued to be a diminishing product on the ice.
Overall, we certainly understand why the Leafs would at least be intrigued by Simmonds. However, taking all of the various factors into consideration, we find it highly unlikely that he will be moving to Toronto anytime between now and Feb. 25.
What’s your take on the speculation linking the Toronto Maple Leafs to Simmonds? Would you want him on the roster? How likely is it to become a reality? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.