While indicating that he didn’t wish to stir much of an additional free agency wake beyond the July 1 splash of James van Riemsdyk and the ripples caused by the subsequent signing of defenseman Christian Folin, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall indicated Wednesday that he was still open to re-signing a rather important player on his roster, Wayne Simmonds.
This time the lack of progress in getting something done didn’t seem to be Hextall’s choice.
In postseason media flurries Hextall had left little doubt on his assured intention of signing Simmonds, who at 29 is coming off a disappointing, injury impacted season, to a contract extension.
The realities of contract negotiations haven’t altered his words about the situation, but you get the idea the landscape doesn’t seem so clear of obstacles.
“I’m not going to discuss negotiations publicly,” Hextall said Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s good for anybody. Like I’ve said, we’d like to keep Simmer. Whether we can or not, I don’t have the answer to that. Long-term, I guess we’ll find out in the future. If we get something done before training camp or going into the year, I don’t have the answer for that.”
Simmonds, who has said he would like to continue playing here, is entering the final season of a contract long perceived to be favorable toward the Flyers. The deal peaks this season at $5 million while retaining the $3.975 million cap hit. In seven seasons with the Flyers, Simmonds has scored 187 of his 226 career goals. One of the cogs in the Jeff Carter deal with Los Angeles in 2011, Simmonds will be entering his 11th NHL season in the fall.
While his goal total last season (24) didn’t fall off drastically, Simmonds’ skating and physical play didn’t match his previous career standards. He admitted as much at the team’s “breakup day” interviews, while also revealing the numerous injuries he’d played with the entire season.
The most serious of these required core muscle surgery in the spring, similar to what set Claude Giroux back a couple of years prior.
Hextall shrugged that off Wednesday, noting various players have recovered differently from such procedures in recent years.
“That’s not an outlier. His surgery was six weeks before Giroux’s or Gostisbehere’s was (in 2016),” Hextall said. “Six weeks in the summer is a lifetime. We have zero concerns about Simmer or about how he’s going to come back in training camp.”
As for Simmonds’ rehab, Hextall said, “He’s been around (working out at the Skate Zone). He’s been in and out. He got married. I think he’s going on his honeymoon today. He’s been in and out.”
It’s possible Simmonds’ contract talks have followed a similar path. Asked if he’d like to reach some kind of conclusion with Simmonds before training camp, Hextall said, “No, not necessarily. Simmer’s got the character that something like that is not going to affect him. It’s not going to affect our team. I can certainly live with it. I’m sure he can, too.”