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Wayne Simmonds: Flyers Youth Can ‘Spark Veterans’

4-8-2017_FlyersvsBlueJackets_1st_credKateFrese-11

(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In the past few seasons, inconsistency has plagued the Flyers, particularly the core players and their offensive production. But for Wayne Simmonds, the offensive numbers have been about as consistent as any on the team.

Last season, Simmonds came within a goal of matching his career high, set in the 2015-16 season when he scored 32 goals, posting his second straight 30-goal season. His 54 points brought his total to 224 points in the last four seasons. Since joining the Flyers, Simmonds hasn't had a season -- an 82-game season at least -- with fewer than 28 goals scored.

Simmonds turns 29 on Saturday, and while that still has him in the prime of his career, on the Flyers, he's one of the most experienced and older forwards on the team. With the direction the Flyers are shifting, Simmonds sees this youth injection coming as a way for the veterans to be sparked as well.

"With a good mix of youth and veterans, I think the youth can spark the veterans a little bit and the veterans will help the younger guys," Simmonds said to CSN Philly while attending the annual BioSteel Camp in Toronto. "All I can do is lead by example. I’m going to go in there and play the game the way I play and hopefully those guys will follow."

For all the talk of the rookies potentially making the roster, one player Simmonds notably commented on was second-year forward Travis Konecny. With the Flyers trading Brayden Schenn to St. Louis at the draft in June, another opportunity opened up for young players, Konecny included.

"I think that’s going to give TK an unbelievable opportunity," Simmonds said. "The way he plays the game, the way he thinks the game, the speed he plays it at and the confidence level he was building towards last year — you could see it at the end of last year and at the world championship when he kind of broke out. He played unbelievable.

"He’s probably top three or four in our team in scoring. He’s a great player and I think the more ice time you give him, the better he’s going to get."

With so much youth expected on the Flyers and given the strength of the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers are not among many of the preseason projections to be a playoff team. That isn't something Simmonds is giving any mind to as the season approaches.

"Go out there, play my game and lead the way I lead,” Simmonds said. "There’s no pressure for us. We’ve got to go in there and just play hockey. We didn’t fulfill what we wanted to do last year, so it’s up to us, I think, as leaders of the group to lead the way for the young guys and have everyone pulling the rope in the same direction."

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