While the Philadelphia Flyers may have suffered through a down year as a team, there are several individual players on the roster that should look back on this season and hold their heads high. One of those players is Wayne Simmonds, who is quickly becoming one of the more reliable scoring threats in Philadelphia.
Heading into the season, expectations were high for ‘Simmer’ after a successful transition from the Pacific to Atlantic division last year. Before he could embark on his second season in Philadelphia under the final year of his contract, Simmonds was signed to a six-year extension that will pay him $3.975 million dollars a season. The deal came off a career year for the winger, and set the bar even higher once the season could finally begin.
When the lockout was ended, the 24-year-old got his chance to show the organization what a sound investment they had made. Simmonds put up nine goals and 17 points through his first 20 games of the season, putting him on pace for career highs in all categories while the rest of the team struggled. He fell off as the team went through its disastrous month of March, but pulled it back together again towards the end of the season. He finished the year ranked third on the team with 32 points and 15 goals in 45 games.
There was a lot to like about the young wingers development. In the past, Simmonds was sometimes tentative to play a big man’s game, opting to stick to the perimeter in the offensive zone. This season he appeared to embrace his role as a power forward, taking the puck to the net with authority on a more regular basis. This gave the Flyers some of their best net-front presence in years. It was particularly useful on the power play, where he accumulated six of his goals and 15 total points while playing with the first unit, getting his nose dirty in the front of the net.
Another reason for Simmonds continued success this season was his ability to shoot the puck at a rate similar to last year. While putting up 28 goals last season (a career high), he averaged 2.4 shots per game with 14.2% shooting percentage. This season, he put up nearly identical numbers: averaging 2.44 shots per game with a 13.6% shooting percentage and marginally less average time-on-ice.
If he can maintain these averages going forward while continuing to drive the net, there is no reason he shouldn’t come close to maintaining a similar rate of production. This would give him around 25 goals and 60 points over an 82-game schedule, which is an ideal scenario for the Flyers. With his contract extension coming shy of the $4 million dollar barrier, this type of secondary production is exactly how Simmonds fits into the offensive payroll structure.
When you consider all the factors, the stage is set for a fruitful and long-term relationship between Wayne Simmonds and the City of Brotherly Love. With a gritty, in-your-face style of play and a consistent nose for the net, the winger should have no problem being the secondary scoring threat the organization has come to rely on when the puck drops next season.
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