As the weeks leading up to the NHL’s Feb. 25 trade deadline have turned to days, contenders looking to supplement their lineup’s skill with some sandpaper and grit have turned their attention to Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds.
With five seasons either above or near the 30-goal plateau, alongside five campaigns above 100 penalty minutes and an undeniable edge to his game, the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent figures to bring an enticing balance of skill and physical play to a club hoping to bolster their roster down the stretch.
Now, it appears Simmonds’ potential suitors are coming into focus.
“I think you’re going to see some teams start pushing for him,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said Saturday during Hockey Night in Canada‘s ‘Headlines’ segment. “San Jose, Calgary and Winnipeg — if Philadelphia feels (a) it wants to make the deal, and (b) is sufficiently out of the playoffs, to do it too.”
The three Western Conference titans mentioned all look set for lengthy playoff runs, with the trio holding the top three spots in the conference. Calgary is currently the West’s No. 1 club with 83 points on the season, while San Jose is second with 80, followed closely by Winnipeg at 78.
The 30-year-old Simmonds is playing out the final season of the six-year deal he signed with Philadelphia in 2012, which carried an annual cap hit of $3.975 million.
Two key names fell off the board on Saturday night as the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Ottawa Senators forward Ryan Dzingel — one day after acquiring his teammate Matt Duchene — while the Dallas Stars acquired Mats Zuccarello from the New York Rangers.