The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed veteran winger Wayne Simmonds to a contract.
Simmonds, 32, was one of the game’s steadiest power forwards with the Philadelphia Flyers, spending five straight seasons right around the 30-goal mark while providing physicality and net-crashing. His last two seasons have seemed to show a decline, and this past year saw him spend a miserable 61 games in New Jersey before the Buffalo Sabres inexplicably traded for him in a season they were miles away from a playoff spot. At any rate, it’s very clear Simmonds is no longer the player he once was. You might be able to excuse some of that on the basis that pretty much everyone associated with New Jersey this year looked bad.
The Leafs shouldn’t be hoping for the classic first-line physical force Wayne Simmonds. They just need him to provide some grit and reliable play while chipping in a few goals here and there, and maybe helping the second power play unit in the minute or two it plays each night.
Sentiment is a dangerous thing in free agency. But Simmonds, who has always been popular with fans and hails from Scarborough, is poised to become a favourite in Toronto if he can put up a season like Jason Spezza just did. Let’s hope it happens.
Welcome home, Wayne!
UPDATE, from the man himself:
Wayne Simmonds, to @Sportsnet, on signing with his hometown Maple Leafs: "I'm born and raised in Scarborough, a proud Torontonian: "I think this was a perfect fit."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 9, 2020
Wayne Simmonds tells @Sportsnet that he brings "functional toughness." Believes he can still play, but will "punch your head off," if needed.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 9, 2020
Simmonds to Sportsnet: "I'm a team-first guy ... Anything happens to the boys, I will be the first to jump in." #Leafs— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) October 9, 2020