Flyers reward Wayne Simmonds with six-year contract

Wayne Simmonds showed the Flyers he has strong scoring and fighting instincts.
Wayne Simmonds showed the Flyers he has strong scoring and fighting instincts. (YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: August 17, 2012

WAYNE Simmonds did not flinch. Even in the middle of tenuous labor negotiations between the NHL and its players' association, Simmonds said he did not need to think long when Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren dangled a 6-year contract extension.

"Just to be a part of the Flyers organization for a substantial amount of time," Simmonds said, "I jumped on it."

Simmonds jumped into Philadelphia's hockey scene headfirst last season, producing new career-highs in goals (28) and points (49) after being acquired from Los Angeles in the trade that involved Mike Richards, and was handsomely rewarded with a deal worth close to $24 million.

Simmonds, 23, had 1 year left on his current deal worth $2 million. His new contract, which kicks in for the 2013-14 season, will pay him an average annual salary just short of $4 million per season, according to a team source.

From his first preseason contest last September, Simmonds was a fan favorite in Philadelphia. He possesses an enviable combination of fists strong enough to throw down in a career-high 10 fighting majors and hands silky enough to net nearly 30 goals. He was one of Peter Laviolette's most consistent and energetic players on a nightly basis.

"Wayne plays the game with courage and honor," Holmgren said in a statement. "We believe he will continue to be a very good winger for our organization."

Simmonds was slowed in the Stanley Cup playoffs by a fractured left finger, which ultimately required offseason surgery, but he still collected six points in 11 postseason games.

Watching his former team in Los Angeles parade around Hollywood with the Stanley Cup made him hungry to do the same in Philadelphia, he said. Last year, Simmonds doubled his goal total from his previous season with the Kings.

For Simmonds, the next step would be a 35- or 40-goal season. Simmonds says the new deal does not add pressure, knowing that he will "continue to progress as a player."

"Since I've come to Philadelphia, I think it's been a great place for me," Simmonds said. "I signed this extension just hoping that we could bring a Stanley Cup to Philadelphia. I just want to be another piece of the puzzle. I think we have a great young core put in place. Obviously, this is where I want to be for a long time."

The timing of Simmonds' extension is an interesting one. He was just 45 days into his negotiating window, since the NHL restricts players from signing an extension unless one has entered the final year of their current deal.

Plus, with the NHL's original July 13 labor proposal of a 24 percent rollback in player salaries, Simmonds' new $24 million deal could come out to just over $18 million if the league's owners get their way. Commissioner Gary Bettman has vowed to lock out players on Sept. 15 if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached. Both sides admitted a "significant economic gulf" after wrapping up another negotiating session Wednesday in Toronto.

For Simmonds, it was the security that was important. He has not picked out a place to play in the event of a lockout. Instead, he is just focused on heading into next season - whenever it begins - on one prize.

"I certainly think we have the talent on our team," Simmonds said. "We've got a hungry group of guys. Everybody's got the same thing on their mind. I'm going to do everything I can to help the Philadelphia Flyers win."


Contact Frank Seravalli at seravaf@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @DNFlyers.

Read his blog at philly.com/FrequentFlyers.

 

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|