Could the Wayne Train Be Departing the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Toronto Maple Leafs - Wayne Simmonds (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Wayne Simmonds (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

Wayne Simmonds signed a new two year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs in June worth $900,000 AAV per year, but is his spot on Toronto’s roster in jeopardy?

I like Wayne Simmonds and was glad to see a local guy coming home to play on the Toronto Maple Leafs on a team-friendly deal.  He was a great player, but last season was a disappointing one for the “Wayne Train.”  It was tough that he went down with an injury and never seemed to bounce back.

This season there have been a lot of battles for roster spot at the Leafs camp especially at the bottom of the roster, and the bottom of the roster is where Wayne Simmonds sat by the end of last season.

Despite these battles for spots, Simmonds has remained relatively quiet at training camp.  He’s played limited minutes in three preseason games and hasn’t had much of an impact in any of them.  He’s been training on lines with players who are not projected to make the Leafs roster.

Could the Wayne Train Be Departing the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Last season, Wayne Simmonds saw himself moved up and down the lineup and auditioning for a number of roles but had trouble finding his spot with the team.  He had a good stint on the second line for the Toronto Maple Leafs with John Tavares and William Nylander before his injury but hasn’t been considered for a top 6 role since.

When a spot on the Tavares’ wing became available this offseason, Wayne Simmonds wasn’t even in the conversation with favour going to Michael Bunting, Ilya Mikheyev and Josh Ho-Sang.

He also seems to have lost his spot as the net front presence on the powerplay.  Changing up the powerplay is great for the team since they struggled during the man advantage last season, but it’s not so great for Wayne Simmonds.

Last season, Simmonds recorded 9 points in 38 games which was a career low in points per game.  Some say Simmonds’ job isn’t to score, it’s to stand up for his teammates, but the “Wayne Train” was only in three fights for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season.

Is three fights enough to warrant him taking a spot from someone who has more to offer offensively and/or defensively?  He also seemed to have no fight left in him during the playoffs when the team needed him most.

Nick Ritchie was in three fights last season, which he won pretty convincingly.  He also fought Ben Chiarot during his first preseason game with the Toronto Maple Leafs to show Leafs fans what he could do.

Ritchie also has a more diverse and higher end skill set than Wayne Simmonds does at this point in his career.  Is Ritchie now the guy who will stand up for him teammates?

If Wayne Simmonds makes the Toronto Maple Leafs roster out of camp, it will be at the expense of either Ritchie, Bunting, Ho-Sang, Mikheyev, Alex Kerfoot, Ondřej Kaše or Jason Spezza.  Then there’s also Pierre Engvall, Nick Robertson and Nikita Gusev fighting for spots.  It’s pretty tough competition.

If Wayne Simmonds doesn’t make the Toronto Maple Leafs roster out of camp, there is a chance that Toronto could try to slide Simmonds through waivers so they could call him up when they have some cap relief to play against particularly nasty teams or fill in for injuries.

At this point, I don’t see him having much trade value.  Toronto may be able to get a low pick for him, but he may be more valuable as injury insurance if he can clear waivers.

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I wish Wayne Simmonds the best of luck.  I hope he can bounce back and be a difference maker for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but at this point, it really seems unlikely.  Battles at training camp benefit the team, so may the best players win.