When you hear of all the injuries Wayne Simmonds played through one season ago, it’s no wonder his numbers took a slight dip.
As he enters a contract year, the 30-year-old is looking to show the hockey world last season’s modest output was an anomaly.
“It was an unfortunate year for me,” Simmonds told The Starting Lineup on Sportsnet 590 Wednesday. “I battled through and I think that’s the mind of a hockey player. If you can put on your skates you’re going to contribute in some sort of way for the team. I’m just looking to get 100 per cent, contribute and be a better player than I was last year because usually I am a much better player than I was and I’m going to show that this year.”
Simmonds, despite admitting he only felt great in seven or eight games all year, still finished the season with 24 goals and 46 points — his worst goal and point totals since the shortened 2012-13 season — while averaging 18:05 of ice time per game.
“It’s frustrating but at the same time you gotta do what you gotta do and I thought I could help my team in different types of ways and that’s what I tried to do,” Simmonds explained. “It’s definitely frustrating when you think you should be doing something and you could be doing it better. It’s just the way it was. I think everyone, at some point in their career, goes through years like that so I’m definitely not the only guy to have done it. That’s for sure.”
Simmonds gave a synopsis of his injury woes to reporters in April after his Flyers were eliminated from the post-season. The Scarborough, Ont., native explained that he entered training camp with a torn pelvis then pulled his groin on Oct. 17 while compensating for his pelvic ailment. Two days later on Oct. 19 is when he lost some chiclets thanks to a Mattias Ekholm high stick. Later that month he broke his ankle when hit with a Shayne Gostisbehere shot.
Believe it or not, though, Simmonds didn’t miss any time until February when he tore a ligament in his right thumb and wasn’t able to grip his stick.
“It’s pretty crazy,” his Flyers teammate Sean Couturier said following the season. “We all knew he was hurt, but he’s a guy who lays it all out there every night and gives his all. He’ll do whatever he can for his teammates.”
Simmonds, with his $3.975-million annual salary cap hit, has been on one of the most team-friendly deals in the league for the past five seasons. In his first four years of the deal, prior to his 2017-18 dip in production, he was averaging 30 goals, 56 points and 110.25 penalty minutes per season.
Only 14 players have scored more goals than Simmonds since his current deal kicked in in 2013 and in theory he should be due a significant raise — especially if he can regain his 30-goal form.
The Flyers don’t have a tremendous amount of cap space, and with Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny among the team’s pending RFAs in need of new contracts before 2019-20 it could become a difficult task to lock Simmonds up long-term.
A June report even suggested the Flyers were gearing up to potentially trade Simmonds.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Simmonds said in regards to entering the final year of his deal. “That’s the way I look at it. I’m just going to come in and play the way I play the game and everything will be fine for me.