We’ve had some time to digest this Wayne Simmonds trade and what it means for us emotionally and practically. It has been tough to see Mr. Train wearing the Nashville Predators logo over the past week, but we all wish him well and hope many cups are in his future. After collecting our thoughts, we got together to chat about just what this trade means for the present of the Philadelphia Flyers and what it could mean for the future.
What were your initial thoughts on the trade?
Steph: I thought that the return was far too low and that this was another trade just to make a trade. I understand that Simmonds is coming off a down year and hasn’t really been dominant this year, there was a reason that we were all waiting for him to be traded, but it still seemed like a nothing return for a guy who could at least be reliably counted upon for 20 goals a season.
Craig: At first I thought the return was too low as well, but the return is starting to grow on me.
Brad: I’m going to have to agree with Steph and and Craig here; I was not a fan of the trade when it was announced. The return did not feel like enough at the time.
Kelly: Oh wow, look at that. I agree with everyone else. My initial gut reaction was “Oh... thought we’d get more than that.”
Jake: Initially I thought the return was fair. Coming into this season I think we were all hoping for an over-payment by an old-school hockey GM somewhere in the NHL, but with how Simmer’s season has unfolded to this point, combined with the other forwards available this year, the likelihood of that happening dwindled significantly. I didn’t jump for joy when the trade went down, but at the end of the day I was satisfied that they were able to get a young, legitimate NHL player in return.
Emily: I did think we would get a lot more for him, but to be honest I knew I was going to be disappointed no matter what. I probably didn’t have the capacity to be fair to whoever we got in return. I’m loyal, and I love Wayne Simmonds with a ferocity that can only be described as familial. I was an orphan duckling, and he was the mother I imprinted on.
John: I was underwhelmed, but didn’t think it was a bad trade. My hopes, like most Flyers fans, was that Simmonds’ reputation and intangibles would see a team perhaps overpay for him. It felt like a fair trade, but I get people not feeling that way, because of the emotional impact of a guy like Wayne Simmonds being traded away.
Kyle: I was quite disappointed. I knew they weren’t going to get a massive return, but I was a bit surprised when I saw it was just Hartman and a fourth. I’m in the same boat as John in that I imagined a general manager would go full Hockey Man and overpay for Simmonds. Mostly though, I was just sad that he was no longer a Flyer.
Bill R: I saw the return and it was initially a bit surprising that there wasn’t a higher pick involved, but ultimately my opinion all along was that the Flyers would ride this out until the deadline and take what they perceived to be the best offer. When I saw what Mark Stone went for at around 2:40pm it somewhat tempered my expectations, but I knew Simmonds was going to be traded regardless.
Mike: It’s probably a fair return given where Wayne’s game has been trending but yeah it feels low considering everything but Hartman is an established NHL player and those are by no means guaranteed with a first or second-round pick.
Kurt: I dunno. I had kind of braced myself for a return that would on its face appear underwhelming. When all of the other big-name wingers got traded and it was seconds before 3:00 and we hadn’t heard anything, I had this feeling that Chuck was just going to end up dumping him for something less than what we were hoping for. “A guy who got traded at the trade deadline last year and a fourth-round pick that will probably become a third” kind of feels like that.
Has that opinion changed?
Steph: Yes, slightly. I have come to terms with it. I don’t immediately jump to “this was a trade just to make a trade” and I have come around on Hartman.
Craig: Yup. I think Hartman can make a positive impact for the Flyers’ top nine next season and beyond. I feel like the pick could have been better, but the Flyers do have ten picks in this year’s draft, so adding a pick for the 2020 draft makes sense. On an emotional level, I don’t know if there is a trade return that would equal the loss of Simmonds, but in terms of actual on-ice production this season it feels about right.
Kelly: Yeah, it has. Taking a step back, getting a younger roster player and a pick for a rental player in a down year is pretty fair. That said, I think this deal went down at 2:57 because Chaz was playing chicken with some other team and lost. But whatever, it’s done now, and after Hartman’s first game, I was impressed.
Brad: Again, yes. I think there was a bit of a disconnect between his perceived value and his actual value. A lot of us understood that he was having a down year, that his 5-on-5 numbers have never been that great, and that he wasn’t a top-six forward anymore. Yet, we also believed that general managers across the league would have overvalued Simmonds because of his intangibles. So when that didn’t happen, it was a letdown, even though the Flyers arguably received the better player in the trade. Outside of the power play, Hartman’s not even arguably the better player, he just is.
Jake: Nope. Like I said, the Flyers are getting a young, legitimate NHL forward in return. At the end of the day it’s hard to be upset with that.
Emily: I think I am opening my heart to love again. Hartman plays with a toughness that we’ll be losing, and he clearly desires to make a good impression on Philadelphia. I think it’s not the worst thing in the world to get a perfectly fine middle-six guy in return for Simmonds, who was on his way to devolving into that already. A trade had to be made either way, like it or not, and I think all things considered it was a solid one.
John: My opinion hasn’t changed. It’s a fair deal, just much of a hockey trade than the overpayment we hoped for.
Kyle: From my very first thought of the trade, yes. Hartman seems to be a solid bottom sixer that has skill but also plays a fast, physical brand of hockey that this team could use.
Bill R: I think if you look at the deal honestly and accept that Wayne Simmonds was never staying here for the remainder of the year, it’s impossible to really, deeply, criticize the return. I felt that way when I saw the deal and I still feel that way now. Sure, it would have been nice to get a better pick, but this is very clearly the best offer they had to choose from prior to 3pm.
Mike: Not really, I mean it’s been clear he’s going to UFA and Fletcher got the best he could for the player given the circumstances. It helps that the Flyers are loaded prospect wise, aren’t in dire need of anything that you’d get for Simmonds, and can take a flier on Hartman being a top nine piece on a cheap deal.
Kurt: Somewhat. Value-wise, I’m still pretty much where I was — Hartman is probably a third-liner (more on that in a second) and that doesn’t feel like much to get back for Simmonds, even if we acknowledge that Simmonds is not the player he used to be, or at the very least is still hampered by the effects of injury/subsequent surgery from last year. That said, I thought Fletcher’s comment about how the team already has a lot of picks and was looking for a roster contributor was interesting. And if you believe that the top two lines have a strong foundation (i.e. Couturier, Giroux, Voracek, etc.) and want to try and bolster the bottom-6 in an effort to improve the team, a new guy isn’t a bad place to take a shot.
What do you think about newest Flyer Ryan Hartman?
Steph: I still don’t think he’s quite enough of a return for the heart of the Flyers, but at least Chuck tried by getting us a Hart Man. In all seriousness, in a very small sample size, he’s better than I thought he was going to be and I’m looking forward to watching him develop through the rest of the season.
Craig: Based on the one game he’s played as of this writing, it’s hard to hate him. It’ll probably be hard to recreate the physicality he brought in the win over the Buffalo Sabres every single night, but if he can provide physicality and grit WHILE ACTUALLY DOING OTHER IMPORTANT HOCKEY THINGS then I’m about it. He’s a better 5-on-5 player than Simmonds and I think he can work his way into a successful line for next season.
Kelly: Well it’s only been one game, as I write this, and he looked quite good in that one game. He seems like a real energy guy and I think that the team needed a bit of that. Hopefully he keeps it up.
Brad: I think he’s going to be an average-to-above average third liner who can move up the lineup when an injury occurs. Sort of playing the role that Michael Raffl has over the last few years. I don’t think he’ll be as effective defensively as Raffl, but he should be able to add more offense than he did.
Jake: I think Hartman can be a solid 3rd line winger for this team. He brings a few things this team desperately needs: a physical edge and speed. I think Hartman probably ends up being what many of us hoped Nick Cousins would be (albeit Hartman is a far superior skater): a feisty, agitating forward who will draw penalties, drive play a bit and chip in 30-40 points on a yearly basis.
Emily: I actually like him quite a bit after his first game. There’s something endearing about a guy who wanted to make himself noticed right away. I like a solid, legitimate NHL player who doesn’t shy away from finishing a check. Also, he has nice hair.
John: I like Hartman’s game. He’s got decent speed, brings some nastiness and should be capable of producing adequate third line numbers for the Flyers. He should be easy to re-sign for a reasonable cost which gives the Flyers flexibility and control.
Kyle: That hit on Rasmus Dahlin * chef kiss *
Bill R: I spent a lot of time watching Hartman in his draft year and I’ve always felt his upside was basically Scottie Upshall. Hartman is basically hovering right around that level. While we all love what Simmonds has done for us over the past eight years, the truth is Hartman does more at 5 on 5 right now and he’s adding an element of speed that we need. If he can top out as a 15-20 goal guy who doesn’t need any powerplay time to get those numbers he’ll be a very valuable player in Philadelphia. Oh and if he keeps hitting people, as he’s known to do, they will surely erect a statue of him here.
Mike: Think he can be a better Michael Raffl, or that’s my hope. More scoring touch, can play a bunch of different styles and play up and down the lineup based on needs. He’s got some edge, and the Flyers sorely need some of that with Wayne gone, too.
Kurt: If only Ron Hextall were here to call him a “pisspot”. But yeah, it’s been interesting to see that things were going pretty well for him in Chicago only for things to not quite go as well in Nashville. As a rule, I’m instinctively somewhat wary of former first-rounders that get traded and moved around this much while they’re still young — how much can there be there if multiple teams are giving up on him? But, as long as your expectations aren’t too high, he can probably help out.
How do you feel about Chuck Fletcher as a General Manager thus far?
Steph: Jury is still out. I started by thinking that he was fixing all of Ron Hextall’s mistakes with waiving Jori Lehtera and Dale Weise, the latter resulting in a trade which also included Christian Folin. But I honestly don’t know. I am not entirely disappointed but I’m also not thrilled. And I don’t think this is necessarily a bad place to be right now.
Brad: He’s done well so far, but I think the big test will be how he handles free agency. Just don’t give term to bottom of the lineup players, and do everything you can to land one of the elite talents that will be available this Summer. But until we see how he handles that — and his draft philosophy — he’s still a question mark. I don’t see a reason to be actively worried about him though, and that’s the good thing.
Craig: Honestly, I don’t know yet. I want to believe in him but, like Brad just mentioned, I want to see how he does in free agency and drafting first. He has shown so far he is willing to do some minor moves to improve the NHL roster immediately, which for some reason Hextall never did. If he’s able to effectively utilize the cap space Hextall provided after cleaning up Paul Holmgren’s mess and is able to manage draft picks well (whether that’s finding draft picks with promise later in the draft or packaging them in a trade for a high-end NHLer) then I’m fine with Chuck.
Kelly: I don’t really have a strong opinion yet. As the rest of the folks above said, this summer is going to be the one that defines Chuck. The expectations that I had for Ron Hextall last summer are now on Chaz. It’s time for this team to compete in a real way, and if it is going to do that, Chaz has to make some moves this summer. So we’ll see, I guess.
Jake: I think he’s done what was expected at this point. He’s lopped off some dead weight and has brought up most of the young guys in the AHL who have earned a look this year. Does that deserve praise? Eh, not really. But I certainly wouldn’t say he’s done a poor job thus far. This summer is going to be the time for Chuck to put his stamp on the team. I’m not sure there’s a GM in a better position going into this summer than Chuck Fletcher. He has a large amount of cap space, a pipeline bursting with talent and I believe 10 more draft picks at his disposal for June’s draft. How he handles the draft, free agency and the trade market this summer will have a major impact on this team heading into not just next season but arguably the next chunk of seasons. Wayne Simmonds is out of the picture. Giroux and Voracek aren’t getting any younger. The time is now with everything he has at his disposal to take this team from middle of the road to legitimate contender, and I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to believe he can do that with a strong off-season in 2019.
Emily: It’s really hard to have a strong opinion here. I liked Ron Hextall, even if I thought he was stubborn and unaggressive, and I don’t know how I feel about ol’ Chucky yet. I will say that he seems to me to have all of the positive traits I liked in Hextall—he doesn’t seem reactionary, he seems patient, level-headed, and cautious. Those are good qualities in a GM, especially in this league. He’s made a lot of decisions I agree with, but it’s still too soon. So far, though, I am optimistic; it’s easy to be wary of new management, but he’s done nothing to make me particularly concerned. Until he makes a decision that sets off the Kill Bill sirens in my head, I’ll lean towards feeling positive about him.
John: I am encouraged by the trades he’s made thus far. He’s cut a good bit of dead weight, or at the very least players he didn’t see as being part of the future. The real test is this summer. Hopefully the Cam Talbot addition solves one area that needed to be addressed-a reliable, veteran back up goalie. But I need Fletcher to have a big summer. That’s why I had hoped that he would have done a bit more selling at the deadline. Yes the Flyers have a ton of picks and prospects, but even adding a couple additional mid rounders could be used as ammo to add a needed top 6 forward and a good veteran top 4 defenseman. At a bare minimum, that’s what I want Fletcher to add this summer to give him a passing grade.
Kyle: I’m cautiously optimistic. He’s made some solid moves so far and seems to have a purpose for where he wants this team to go, without being dead set on one path to get there. That was the fault of Hextall in thinking it was his way, or the highway. This offseason could make or break my opinion of Fletcher, and as others have said, he needs to have a big offseason. There needs to be a distinct commitment to winning and if that means sacrificing some prospects for legitimate high end NHL talent? Do those trades Chucky. Or sign guys, or both, JUST DO IT.
Bill R: Right now the grade on Chuck is incomplete, but I have been encouraged by his early willingness to cut ties with dead weight. For years we were told that simply being patient would create a winning environment and certainly some of whatever success Fletcher has in Philadelphia will be attributed to players procured by other regimes. That said, this offseason will truly be telling. Will he keep Gordon? Does he go after Quenneville? Are the Flyers signing big name free agents or making smart trades? There’s going to be a lot on his plate this offseason and I think by July 4th we’ll have a much clearer view of who he is and what he believes. To my way of thinking, whatever his view, he’s an upgrade over Hextall, because Hextall was simply unwilling to fluidly adjust his plan. When 30 other GMs are all desperately trying to bury your team in route to a parade you simply can’t become fixated on a plan that doesn’t involve the willingness to use every avenue to be successful. Fletcher seems open to acceptable risks and I’m a fan of that.
Mike: So far he’s done a fine job besides the whole handling of Dave Hakstol’s firing. He got decent value for Simmonds in kind of a tough spot, but judging Fletcher will definitely come in the summer when the bigger trades go down and we see what he wants to do with the Flyers’ cap space and/or their draft/prospect assets. Should be interesting for sure.
Kurt: With due respect, pretty much everything Chuck has done so far falls firmly in the “who cares” bucket to me. Paul Holmgren and Dave Scott fired Ron Hextall because he wasn’t doing enough to push this team forward now, so Chuck Fletcher should be held to that standard. (Or maybe he should be held to the “does he allow the players to eat hot wings and pizza after games?” standard. I don’t know.) In his presser the day after firing Hextall, Dave Scott said that they were “very focused on the trade deadline coming up”, with the implication that big moves were going to be made. That didn’t really happen. He talked repeatedly about winning now — not two or three years from now, now. That hasn’t really happened, and the extent to which it has is because Carter Hart has been good at hockey. Sooner or later Fletcher is going to have to do something that isn’t trading out pending free agents. That’s when and where we’ll be able to evaluate him.