It seemed like a given that Wayne Simmonds would sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs and his deal shows where the team’s focus to improve the roster is.
Getting Simmonds on a one-year, $1.5 million deal is the type of investment the team has made through trades the past few whether it was Kyle Clifford, Brian Boyle and Jake Muzzin. Instead of giving up draft assets, the team decided to address team toughness on Day 1 of free agency and probably won’t be done.
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In a way, the Leafs were in a fortunate situation because in other years, Simmonds might have considered going to the highest bidder and there was apparently a more enticing offer from the Montreal Canadiens. Instead, the Scarborough, Ont., native decided his hometown was a better fit even with a lower offer.
There wasn’t a lot of negativity towards the signing considering it was a low-cost move and the Leafs don’t have a player like Simmonds in their system. What could be most encouraging development is how healthy the 32-year-old shows up to training camp, something he believes shouldn’t be an issue.
“I think I’m as healthy as I’ve been since 2017,” Simmonds told reporters. “This has been the first summer [since] that I’ve actually gone into the gym and put some bulk on to make sure it’s not just a good start I get off to, but that it’s a sustained, full season. I know I’m physically prepared and I’m definitely mentally prepared for this. I’m just going to keep at it, and continue to build my power, build my strength and get back to the player I know I can be.”
What the Leafs also offered Simmonds was a no-movement clause so it ensures that he remains in the Blue and White this season and you can bet a lot of his new teammates will appreciate having him around. One thing that Simmonds also told reporters that is important is that he alone isn’t the player to bring the team a Stanley Cup.
His influence can certainly rub off on his other teammates especially his ability to be a physical presence and produce as a third liner rather than play less than 10 minutes on the fourth line. This is exactly the type of move a team with limited cap space needs to make in order to improve the roster.
What are your thoughts on the Simmonds deal? How do you think he fits the lineup? Let us know in the comments below.