Our goal with the 2018 SBN Mock Draft was to provide an entertaining, and somewhat realistic, experience for our readers and for ourselves. That led to us being active in discussing trades with numerous other SBN blogs. We completed three deals, and the last one was certainly the biggest. We (on behalf of the Flyers) traded forward Wayne Simmonds to the Toronto Maple Leafs (as represented by Pension Plan Puppets) for forward Jeremy Bracco, the rights to pending UFA center Tyler Bozak, and the 25th overall selection in the 2018 draft.
First and foremost, we have to make it clear that a group of hockey bloggers that skew to being analytic advocates will very likely have a different value than real life NHL GMs for a player like Simmonds. That heart and soul leadership, gritty toughness, and willingness to play through pain is prized by most of the men currently running NHL clubs. So, if the return seems a bit underwhelming, keep this in mind.
When it came to a Simmonds trade, we certainly appreciated the blood, sweat, and tears he shed for the Flyers since arriving in Philadelphia in the summer of 2011. Simmonds has been a consistent producer and an elite power play weapon. He’s been the only consistent physical force among the Flyers forward group. He’s played through injuries that would see a lot of guys miss serious time. In short, we fully recognize that Wayne ”Mr. Train” Simmonds is a shining example of what people think of when the say Philadelphia Flyers. There’s not a single contributor that was happy to see a Simmonds trade, even this fake one, because we do hold him in the highest esteem. But when looking at the situation with our head and not our hearts, we decided to entertain offers. It wasn’t that we had settled on a mindset that we absolutely had to deal Simmonds, but we certainly were going to test the waters.
The combination of Simmonds’ age, probable decline in the near future, and uncertain contract status convinced us to listen to offers for the power forward. Simmonds will be 31 when the 2019-20 season begins and he plays a physically demanding style that often lends itself to injuries and steep decline in performance. This, in conjunction with Simmonds being an unrestricted free agent next summer, worries us. If Simmonds had two or three years left on his current deal, I doubt we would have been exploring trade options.
Simmonds could sign a short term, high-AAV deal with the Flyers, but both the player and his agent are fully aware that his next contract is likely Simmonds last shot to secure a long term deal, similar to the one TJ Oshie signed with the Washington Capitals last summer (Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman made that comparison earlier this week). Unfortunately, despite the Flyers being in an advantageous cap situation this summer, soon players like Ivan Provorov, Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny will be coming off cheap entry level deals and eating more significant cap space. Paying Simmonds $6 to $7 million per year at that stage makes the cap situation difficult, at best. If he does hit his decline, then they are in real trouble with a deal like that.
In entertaining offers, it was obvious blogs representing other teams had similar concerns. There was only one real offer from Hockey Wilderness that we haggled over, involving a swap of 1st round picks and an NHL player coming back, but we felt it simply wasn’t enough for us. We made our selections at 16 (Rasmus Kupari) and 19 (Vitali Kravtsov) and figured we were done ... until Toronto called asking us about Simmonds. It was the first offer we had gotten of a 1st rounder for Simmonds straight up, and they were also willing to add a prospect. The key piece of the trade return was the 25th pick, and we were thrilled to have another chance to add an outstanding prospect from the first round. As for the other pieces, Toronto was willing to part with second tier prospects, which eliminated guys like Travis Dermott, Timothy Liljegren and Kaspari Kapanen. Trust me, we tried.
We discussed a handful of others, before settling on 21 year old winger Jeremy Bracco. Despite his smaller stature (he’s listed at 5’10” 171 lbs on NHL.com) we loved his speed and offensive production at lower levels. Bracco was a prolific scorer for the US National junior team and in the OHL for Kitchener and Windsor. He made his pro debut in 2017-18 with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and posted 6 goals and 26 assists in 50 games. We viewed Bracco as the best prospect of the ones made available to us in the offer. In addition, we decided to ask for the rights to Tyler Bozak. The goal would be to sign him to a 2-3 year contract and provide us with a very solid third-line center option. Bozak is certainly capable of the job, posting a respectable 11 goals and 32 assists last season in that very role for the Maple Leafs. Even though Bozak is in his early 30s, he’s still producing strong play-driving stats, especially relative to his teammates (53.3 CF%, 4.5 CF REL% last season) and has been a good faceoff man over his career. At 6’1” and 199 lbs, he brings a bit of size to the mix as well.
All in all, we were content with the trade, given the condition that we were forced to recognize our SBN brethren weren’t willing to overpay for Simmonds and we really liked the opportunity to add another prospect. Bozak fills a need that GM Ron Hextall made clear he was going to address this summer and Bracco adds more skill and speed to our forward group. If SBN was doing a mock free agency period, I would expect us to be very active in trying to address the winger slot opened by trading Simmonds.
We’ll have more on our selection at the 25th pick soon.
Do you approve of the trade we made in the SBN NHL mock draft?
This poll is closed
Love it - I would be happy with this trade in real life
Like it - Not my ideal return here, but happy with it
Meh - I accept it, but definitely not the way I’d have gone
Hate it - HOW DARE YOU TRADE WAYNE TRAIN