By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
Most of the day, it was the waiting game for the Flyers. Wayne Simmonds did not practice, everyone else did. But there was a tension to the day for more players than Simmonds.
There was a report that teams were kicking the tires on Radko Gudas. Michael Raffl almost sounded like he knew he was going to be on the way out. And Simmonds was near the top of the list on the NHL’s board for most of the day.
Finally, shortly after the 3 p.m. deadline, the news came in. Wayne Simmonds was a Nashville Predator.
The return for Simmonds was forward Ryan Hartman and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020. On the surface, it is an underwhelming return for the Flyers.
Hartman has 10 goals and 10 assists this season and a role player in the bottom six. It feels like the Flyers have so many of those guys. In a sense, they do, but they also need to add players that are going to build out the entire roster, fill all the roles and do what is needed.
Hartman is just 24 and still under club control as a restricted free agent after this season. He will likely cost very little, so retaining him beyond this season shouldn’t be difficult. Hartman also possesses some scoring talent. He managed 10 goals with Nashville this season in limited ice time on the third and fourth line. In Chicago in his rookie season in 2016-17, he had 19 goals and 31 points on the season, a solid start for sure.
The 24-year-old simply needs playing time, to be put in the right role where he can have that success. He’s got an edge to his game, so he can be physical, and he’s also killed penalties, so the Flyers PK likely got a boost as well.
The sticking point here may not be the player, but the pick. After all, the talk was that the Flyers could possibly get a first-round pick for Simmonds. So what happened?
Well, Hartman being part of the deal helps. Hartman was Chicago’s first-round pick at 30th overall in 2013. In Nashville, he just wasn’t a fit. Perhaps in Philadelphia, he can get some ice time and boost his numbers.
It’s also important to remember that value is measured in different ways. Many see Simmonds as the consummate team leader and a former 30-goal scorer. But that isn’t really what Simmonds is anymore and that was especially evident this season. So in essence, this may have very well been the best you were going to get for Simmonds in the end.
Did Chuck Fletcher make the right deal? It’s too soon to tell. For one, there is no indication that Simmonds will be with Nashville beyond this season, which means the Predators were going to be somewhat cautious about what they give up for a potential rental. You also have to see what you get from Hartman to really determine how successful the trade is for both sides.
The pick is what it is, but there was some strategy behind this for Fletcher. Nashville was already in a position to win a playoff series, even without deadline-day moves for Simmonds and Mikael Granlund. That fourth-round pick should become a third if Nashville simply meets expectations in the playoffs.
Fletcher did what he had to do. Chances are the Flyers are not going to be able to offer Simmonds what he will want to get on the free agent market. If that was going to be the case, you weren’t going to let him leave for nothing at the end of the season. A move had to be made.
Perhaps the market shifted as the day went on. Fletcher reportedly wanted a first-round pick and prospect for Simmonds, but was said to be scaring teams away. That was earlier in the day. As the afternoon progressed, there was nothing in terms of trades. The market stalled while Ottawa decided if there was a deal in place for Mark Stone. Once Stone was dealt at around 2:45 p.m., the market opened back up with activity and Simmonds was the next big name on the way out.
It’s a move the Flyers needed to make and see what the market dictated. This was the return, and it’s a start to the Flyers next chapter. It may not be overwhelming, and it is certainly a sad day for Flyers fans to watch one of their favorites leave after eight seasons, but it continued to open up spots and open up cap space for the future to come.