(Photo: Kate Frese)
The Flyers to-do list for this offseason is essentially complete with the team re-signing defenseman Robert Hagg on Wednesday, which starts to shift the focus to next season and beyond.
On the list of free agents for next offseason is Wayne Simmonds, a name that crept into the discussion this offseason as a possible trade chip for the Flyers.
Simmonds is still here and figures to be through the 2018-19 season. His future beyond next season, however, remains cloudy with lingering questions.
It makes the contract year of 2018-19 that much bigger for Simmonds. For one, he has to prove he is healthy and capable of playing to form.
Simmonds opened the 2017-18 season with six goals in October. He also had five goals in December and four in January to total 16 goals through 50 games. In the last 25 games he played in the 2017-18 season, Simmonds scored just eight goals, including four over the final 16 games.
Beyond just improved play in the 2018-19 season for Simmonds, there is the question of what his future with the Flyers truly looks like.
Simmonds is making $4.5 million average annual value on his current contract. That is going to increase substantially on his next deal. The key here is the term -- do the Flyers have a short-term deal or long-term deal in mind? Would Simmonds be willing to accept a shorter deal of three years -- if that’s what the Flyers are willing to offer -- or is he going to be solely shopping for a six or seven-year megadeal?
The money certainly plays a factor in any deal with Simmonds for the Flyers as well. The Flyers have many more items on next offseason’s to-do list -- among them, new deals for Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny -- in addition to perhaps being bigger players in free agency.
The possibilities for Simmonds vary greatly. At one point, it seemed like Simmonds could be on the move this offseason to open up even more cap space for the Flyers. Ultimately, it seems like Simmonds is sticking around at least to start the 2018-19 season.
There is the possibility that Simmonds could be shipped out midway through the season or at the trade deadline, but with the Flyers making moves to improve the roster in the offseason, it doesn’t seem likely that they would try to sell with Simmonds in the middle of a possible playoff race.
That would essentially bring things to the following offseason, the moment of truth for the Flyers. That’s when the clock is ticking on the Flyers to get a deal done with Simmonds, assuming they are still interested in re-signing him.
At that point, the timeline of a potential new deal will be under a microscope. With the free-agent negotiating period beginning by June 25, the Flyers will likely need to have a deal done by then in order to retain Simmonds.
For now, it seems like talks on any new deal have been tabled for now, as have the trade rumors. Simmonds will enter the 2018-19 season as a Flyer and be expected to play out the duration of the final year of his contract. But from there, it’s anybody’s guess what happens.