"We knew when we made the trade we were taking a step back to take two steps forward - and that's what has happened," Ed Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, said after the Flyers' 2-0 win over the Kings on Saturday. "We felt they were young and would get better and better."
Simmonds, 25, always had the speed and tenacity, but he has improved his play around the net and on the perimeter and has become a Flyers cornerstone.
Entering Saturday, Simmonds had collected 23 points in the last six weeks. Only eight NHL players - including marquee forwards Sidney Crosby (28), John Tavares (27), Claude Giroux (25), and Ryan Getzlaf (24) - had more points than Simmonds in that span.
In his three years with the Kings, Simmonds was a complementary player, a third-line winger who played about 14 minutes a game.
His role - and his playing time - has expanded greatly with the Flyers. He is the team's second-line winger on a line with Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier, and he is also used on the power play.
"This is my sixth year in the league, and when you're younger, things move a little too quickly," Simmonds, who is averaging about 161/2 minutes a game, said a few days ago. "Your mind's kind of racing, and everything is just a blur."
But with almost six years of experience, the game has become easier for the good-natured Ontario native. Playing his position comes more naturally, and having been familiar with Schenn's game since their L.A. days has also made the analytical winger more comfortable in his role.
"They've played a lot of hockey together," coach Craig Berube said, "so the chemistry is obviously there."
The 6-foot-2, 183-pound Simmonds says his game has improved simply because of the maturation process.
"As you get older, I think things start to slow down," he said. "You start to realize that you can do things if you take your time and don't panic all the time. I think that's the case for me. I'm starting to learn things I can do and things I can't."
Simmonds scored a career-high 28 goals in his first season with the Flyers, then had 15 in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign. This season, he's on pace for 26.
"Simmer's turning more into a power forward," Berube said. "He's using his speed a lot more, skating with the puck, going on the forecheck to get it. He's always been a good player around the net and always scored a lot of goals around the net, but I think his play from our end out - breakouts, and skating and carrying the puck - has improved. And I think his game is evolving in coming down the wing and shooting pucks, too."
His numbers have improved dramatically over his first three seasons in Los Angeles, where he averaged 13 goals.
"It's a completely different role than I had in L.A.," Simmonds said. "In L.A., I was counted on as a checking forward. In Philly, I'm looked to score goals and take the body and play physical. I've accepted that role."
Simmonds has embraced his job description with the Flyers. And while his play on the wing has improved, Simmonds still seems to have an affinity to playing down low. His office.
"It's a nice role," he said, smiling. "The puck's got to get to the front of the net before it goes in the net, right? So I might as well just meet it there for tips and rebounds. It's a tough area to play, and I like doing it. I like my job."
Inside the Flyers: Looking Back at Big Trades
For the first time since they were traded in separate 2011 deals, the Kings' Jeff Carter and Mike Richards faced the Flyers together Saturday. Here are the players that were involved in those deals - Richards went to L.A., Carter originally went to Columbus - and their statistics this season entering Saturday:
G A Pts. +/-
Jeff Carter 20 14 34 4
Jake Voracek 14 24 38 -1
Sean Couturier 9 16 25 -4
Nick Cousins (in AHL) 4 9 13 -5
G A Pts. +/-
Mike Richards 7 28 35 -3
Wayne Simmonds 17 21 38 -4
Brayden Schenn 14 17 31 2
The Flyers also received a second-round pick for Richards, which they used as part of a trade to acquire Nick Grossmann.
- Sam Carchidi