It appears Wayne Simmonds has expressed interest in potentially joining the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency which would be an intriguing idea.
The 32-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent and would be a desirable player for a contending team. In the Leafs case, he can add something that has become valuable for a lot of teams in these playoffs, a player that doesn’t solely on skill to have an impact.
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What Toronto has to offer Simmonds is something that has become desirable to many players from the GTA, a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup while being able to remain close to home. It is certainly something that has been on the mind of the Scarborough, Ont., native as he explained recently.
"“So, of course it’s crossed my mind. I know they’re in a bit of a salary cap situation and things of that nature, but you know I’m open to everything, Toronto’s got a great core of players and I think that’s definitely a team where I could go in and make an impact right away,” Simmonds told Pierre LeBrun via TSN. “It’s up to the teams. Whoever wants to choose me, I’ll be waiting. I’ll definitely be ready to go.’’"
What Simmonds also told LeBrun is that he is finally feeling healthy after dealing with some tough injuries the past few seasons. The extended layoff has probably benefitted the gritty winger greatly and that will be crucial for him considering it has impacted his production.
It wasn’t long ago that Simmonds was capable of scoring 28 to 30 goals in a season while also bringing that much needed physical element as well. For the Leafs, it has constantly been a talking point about the lack of physicality in the lineup and the team not having enough players willing to do the dirty work.
With Kyle Clifford a pending free agent and a hefty price of a second-round pick, if he re-signs, it would probably be more beneficial for the Leafs to consider Simmonds especially if he comes in at a reasonable price tag. Last season he made $5 million on a one-year deal but that was also the case of the New Jersey Devils having the cap space to spend.
Where the Leafs could benefit is knowing the Simmonds is motivated to join a contending team instead of looking for another payday. Look no further than this comment he made to LeBrun:
"“My whole career, I think I’ve been that guy who is willing to do all the dirty work. I pride myself on doing that type of dirty work,” Simmonds told LeBrun. “I think now I’m in a position as being a free agent again where hopefully I can land myself on a contending team. That’s the goal here. I want to be a difference-maker, I want to be a piece to a puzzle that’s not yet complete, but I can help push over the top.’’"
He won’t come at the price tag of a Jason Spezza who was willing to take the league minimum but there should be an opportunity to get him hopefully at the $2-3 million range. This is what the Leafs were looking to do with moving out Kasperi Kapanen, opening up some cap flexibility to bring in a different mix.
Of course, adding a defenceman is also a priority for this team but if you look at what the Tampa Bay Lightning did with the addition of Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, it has made the team a more competitive group while also relying on their skill upfront.
Some might think general manager Kyle Dubas does not value this but seeing how he made the move for Clifford and admits that things have to change, it would be premature to think he doesn’t. This is why signing Simmonds would be a welcomed change to a lineup that lacks what he brings.
Should the Leafs consider signing Wayne Simmonds? What would you pay him? Let us know in the comments below.