NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Monday’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
A couple of months ago, the chances of the Philadelphia Flyers trading pending unrestricted free agent Wayne Simmonds were incredibly high. But how much have things changed now that the Flyers have rattled off nine wins in their last 10 games?
If though they’ve been nearly unbeatable for almost a month, they still find themselves six points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. That’s one reason why tonight’s matchup is huge. It’s a four-point game. No doubt about it.
Simmonds would net them a really nice return. No disrespect to Brian Boyle, but if he was able to get the New Jersey Devils a second-round draft pick, Simmonds could probably fetch a first-rounder and more. The 30-year-old has seen his point totals decline over the last three seasons, but he’s still on pace to score 24 goals this season (he has 16 goals and 24 points in 55 games).
He’s also a big body, which every team can use during a playoff run. They shouldn’t have a hard time finding a taker for him if they still intend on moving him.
“Wayne has played hard, he’s been very good of late and I can’t commend him enough on his professionalism, his attitude,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said, per NBC Sports Philadelphia. “You watch him in celebrations after we win a game, he’s pretty much the first guy out there to congratulate Carter [Hart] or Anthony [Stolarz], as the case may be. He’s just a great teammate and has done a lot for this franchise.”
So if the Flyers keep rolling, can they afford to trade such an important piece of their roster?
The simple answer: yes.
Even if the Flyers were to sneak in to the final playoff spot in the East, the odds of them being able to take down the Tampa Bay Lightning are slim. Even with Carter Hart playing incredibly well between the pipes, it’s unlikely to happen. Of course, we’ve seen rookie goalies steal the show before (see Cam Ward‘s run in 2006), but the odds of that happening aren’t high enough for a team like the Flyers to pass on a great return for one of their players on an expiring contract.