NHL Rumor Mill – October 10, 2022
The Maple Leafs make Wayne Simmonds available in the trade market plus the Jets enter what could be a consequential season. Check out the details in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LEAFS SHOPPING SIMMONDS
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the Toronto Maple Leafs are making Wayne Simmonds available in the trade market. The return is not as important as “doing right by the player.” Friedman indicated the 34-year-old winger is in good health and very much hopes to play this season.
Simmonds is in the final season of a two-year contract with an annual average salary of $900K, though in actual salary he’ll make $1.050 million this season. He also carries a 10-team no-trade list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds was once among the best two-way forwards in the game. However, his performance has been in decline in recent seasons. He lost his job to Zach Aston-Reese, who signed a one-year, $840K contract yesterday with the Leafs.
Simmonds could have value for a club seeking affordable leadership, experience and toughness in their lineup. The Leafs placed him on waivers yesterday but their willingness to trade him indicates they’re expecting he’ll go unclaimed today.
So why would a team trade for Simmonds when they could’ve plucked him off waivers for nothing? Perhaps an interested club sitting high up in the waiver order prefers to save that spot for a better option. Maybe there’s a team that’s also looking to offload a player via trade. There could be a team hoping to squeeze an extra asset from the cap-strapped Leafs to take Simmonds off their hands.
JETS FACING A CONSEQUENTIAL SEASON
NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen agreed with a reader that the Winnipeg Jets face a “make-or-break” season. Changes to their roster core could be coming next summer if they miss the playoffs again or make another first-round exit.
Former captain Blake Wheeler, center Mark Scheifele and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck could be part of that roster shakeup. Each is slated to become unrestricted free agents in 2024. Rosen suggested management could try to get ahead of things by trading them, especially if Pierre-Luc Dubois declines to sign a long-term extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is a restricted free agent next summer who will be a year away from UFA eligibility if he doesn’t sign a long-term deal.
I agree with Rosen that it could be time for a major roster shakeup if the Jets stumble again this season. They’ve been slowly declining since reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2018. It could be time to move out some of the veterans and instead build around players like Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Dubois if he stays for the long term.