Names fly around Twitter, Reddit and everywhere else people talk hockey when the NHL trade deadline approaches. The name most often matched with the Lightning ahead of this year’s Feb. 25 deadline is Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.
Here are five questions about the Lightning and Simmonds:
Who is Simmonds?
Simmonds is a 30-year-old power forward who had 27 points in 58 games entering Sunday’s game against the Red Wings. He’s at an age that’s on the high end for a power forward. At one point he was one of the league’s best at that job, but his play has declined. He no longer scores like he did, nor does he plays at the same physical level, but he is still a very good player who could add something to just about any team.
Simmonds also has a reputation as a popular teammate and could blend well in the Lightning’s tightly knit dressing room.
The Lightning would have to determine how much he could add to its team and if that is something it needs.
What we know about trade talk?
The Lightning inquired about Simmonds a couple of weeks ago. Simmonds can be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and it’s unlikely the Flyers will re-sign him. It’s hard to gauge the Lightning’s interest level. This being general manager Julien BriseBois’ first year in charge, he doesn’t have patterns to give us clues.
Simmonds has a 12-team no-trade list, and it doesn’t include the Lightning. His remaining daily salary cap hit is $1,047,177, according to the cap website CapFriendly.
What would Simmonds cost?
The Lightning doesn’t have a straightforward 2019 first-round draft pick to offer. Its pick is tied up in conditions from last year’s trade for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller from the Rangers. Philadelphia would probably look for a top prospect or perhaps a package of mid-level prospects.
Tampa Bay’s top prospect is defenseman Cal Foote. The Lightning is unlikely to part with him. It has other options to consider but wouldn’t want to empty the cupboard, particularly as it might need some of the smaller contracts to balance out the big ones against the salary cap.
Would Simmonds be a rental?
The Lightning doesn’t have a history of acquiring rentals at the deadline. But that’s what Simmonds would be.
The Lightning signing him for next season wouldn’t make sense. It has a salary cap issue on its hands. Even with three defensemen with expiring contracts, the Lightning needs money to cover raises to Nikita Kucherov, Yanni Gourde and Ryan McDonagh. And then there’s re-signing Brayden Point, who’s in the last year of his entry-level deal. That’s BriseBois’ first priority for next season.
A trade would offer Simmonds a chance to play for the Stanley Cup and audition for his next contract with another team.
When could a trade down?
The Lightning does not have an available roster spot. There is no roster limit after the deadline, so if Tampa Bay would make a move, it probably would do that very close to the deadline.
As the Lightning did last week to recall defenseman Jan Rutta from AHL Syracuse for a day, it could make a paper transaction to send someone to the AHL between making a trade and the roster opening up. Tampa Bay does play on deadline day — it hosts the Kings at Amalie Arena a week from today — so it would need to be willing to sit whoever was sent down.
Contact Diana C. Nearhos at email@example.com. Follow @dianacnearhos