This is a homecoming for Simmonds, 32, who hails from Scarborough, Ont. The winger plays a powerful, physical game and brings a little bit of sandpaper into the Maple Leafs’ lineup – something general manager Kyle Dubas spoke about seeking this off-season in an effort to make his team a tougher club to play against.
Simmonds’ best seasons came during his tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers. Between 2011 and 2018, Simmonds regularly hit the 40-point plateau and twice reached 60 points, with two 30-plus goal seasons to his name.
A short rental stint in Nashville in 2018-19, followed by a one-year deal in New Jersey that saw him again traded at the deadline (to Buffalo, this time) last year were met with some of his least productive seasons, making Simmonds a strong candidate for a rebound campaign. In 68 games this past season, Simmonds tallied eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points.
Simmonds’ signing makes him one of the first names off the board of UFAs on the market. The Sabres, knowing Simmonds would be walking away come Oct. 9, gave the player permission to speak with other teams prior to the official opening of free agency.
Wayne Simmonds is heading home to play for his hometown @mapleleafs. Who do you think will play on a line with Simmonds? #NHLFreeAgency #NHLonSN