Toronto Maple Leafs: It’s a Mistake to Re-Sign Wayne Simmonds

Wayne Simmonds, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Wayne Simmonds, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are rumored to be looking to bring back Wayne Simmonds for another go round.

According to Elliotte Friedman, the Toronto Maple Leafs are working towards an extension with Wayne Simmonds.

Simmonds just finished up a one-year contract with the Leafs that paid him $1.5 million.  This was an overpayment and Simmonds didn’t really deliver on it.

They don’t need to bring him back, and shouldn’t.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Wayne Simmonds

The Leafs brought in Simmonds for leadership and character and toughness and grit.

In my opinion, he showed a major lack of character and leadership when he beat up on Alex Edler earlier this year, and as far as toughness and grit goes, I think the kind of toughness Simmonds brings these days is extremely overrated.

You can’t over-estimate how much tough, destructive, hard to play against first-line players help a hockey team. But what does  a guy bringing next to no offense for ten minutes per night on the fourth line really do to help team toughness? Not much, because he doesn’t impact games enough for it to matter.

And as far as his role in protecting star players, that’s ridiculous.  It’s such a stupid concept it is amazing I actually have to mention it.  No hockey player’s behavior has ever changed  because of the threat that they might get punched in the face, and this is because THEY PLAY HOCKEY FOR A LIVING.  If you are brave enough to stand in front of  a slap shot, or to even go out on the ice without a face shield, I guarantee you that you aren’t making decisions based on the concept of maybe getting beaten up.

I actually really like Simmonds and I appreciated him more as the season went on. He was faster than I thought, and he’s a  smarter, and better player all round than I thought he was.  But  his presence on the Leafs blocks younger, hungrier and higher-ceiling players from breaking through.

His pedigree and name will force the coach to keep him in the lineup regardless of what happens, and as we saw this year, he will needlessly get moved up in the lineup.

Simmonds doesn’t bring enough offense to be worth even a roster spot at the league minimum.  The Leafs already have Spezza, and if they sign Simmonds, that’s two of three fourth line spots already gone, and it makes it really hard for rookies to break in.

The Leafs proved this year that their problem wasn’t leadership or grit, but random variance.  Simmonds is by all accounts a great person, and he’s a half decent hockey player, even at this point in his career.

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But the Leafs need, youth, speed, hungry players, players with high upside and they need the roster spots to foster competition and give these players a chance.  You could do a lot worse than Simmonds on your fourth line, but I think you could also do a lot better.