With free agency approaching, one thing can be counted on: Pierre LeBrun has Wayne Simmonds rumours. It’s not even a meme anymore, it’s now tradition.

And for the Habs fans out there this morning:

No one is paying Wayne Simmonds $5 million or signing him to play in the top six. He got one chance at that and he didn’t make enough hay in that sunshine to get that kind of deal again.

For boxcar fans, his 2019-2020 season on two non-playoff teams was: 8G, 17A for 25 points in 68 games played.

For model fans, take a look at this:

This is interesting, in that both of these players have good points and weaker areas and they shake out at five-on-five at something like a replacement level player.  However, Spezza can shoot. That’s what’s keeping him on a team at his age, and with the rest of his impacts being ordinary.

Now, here’s where this gets more confusing. In 2018-2019, Spezza in Dallas was horrible, and Simmonds in Nashville and Philadelphia had good defensive impacts and nothing else. He had 30 points that year, and why anyone thought he should get paid $5 million is beyond me, but New Jersey got a fifth round pick out of Buffalo at the deadline. That’s hockey, II guess.

On a Spezza Special of a contract, would Simmonds bring anything much to the Leafs now that he’s 32? That’s hardly ancient. But one of his biggest strengths as a player in his prime was speed. He’s got this reputation as a tough guy, but he’s more of an agitator — more Nazem Kardri than Kyle Clifford. And once upon a time, he had Kadri’s offensive touch and power play ability too. Those glory days are gone, just like they are for Spezza. This isn’t a Joe Pavelski opportunity here.

Is there anything left in the Simmonds tank but some fame and a desire to keep playing?

Maybe, but for a team desperately seeking defensive competence, he seems like an odd choice.

Small Update: