A very interesting discussion took place on Morning Drive today. Hosts Braden Gall, Nick Kayal and Derrick Mason along with Executive Producer Chase McCabe threw out the idea of the Nashville Predators acquiring Philadelphia Flyers wing Wayne Simmonds.
This entire conversation started because of Adam Vingan’s recent piece in The Athletic. Vingan mentioned five players who could be available between now and the NHL’s trade deadline on February 25 that the Preds should possibly look at. Those five players were Simmonds, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, New York Rangers alternate captain Mats Zuccarello, Florida’s Nick Bjugstad and, of course, Ottawa’s Matt Duchene.
Kayal said that he reached out to a former colleague who happens to be a member of the Flyers’ radio network about what it would take to pry Simmonds out of Philadelphia’s hands. When the answer came back “[Kevin] Fiala perhaps,” the conversation escalated.
So, for this edition of Preds Hypothetical Cinema, let’s discuss this possibility.
- RELATED READING: Preds Hypothetical Cinema: Erik Karlsson (September 2018)
Remove Fiala for a second. Taken at face value, Simmonds does address a need. The only player the Preds have on their roster that’s known for parking himself in front of the goal crease and creating some sort of havoc is Viktor Arvidsson. Of course, Arvidsson is out about four more weeks with a broken thumb, but Simmonds wouldn’t just be brought in to help in the interim. He’d become a valuable piece to their playoff puzzle. Can Preds fans imagine both power play units having their very own net-front presence? Could the addition of Simmonds not only provide yet another weapon but also single-handedly fix the NHL’s fourth-worst power play?
Remember, Simmonds is a six-time 20-goal scorer — and would’ve had another were it not for the lockout in 2012-13 when he scored 15 in just 45 games — and a two-time 60-point guy. For the type of player he is, he’s incredibly durable, having played in 786 of a possible 810 regular season games in his NHL career. At 30 years old, he should be motivated. While he still has more than a few good years left, the prime of his career is coming to a close soon yet he’s never won a Stanley Cup. Furthermore, he’s consistently produced despite being on some bad Flyers teams as of late, having only made the playoffs three times in the past six years and not having won a playoff series since before that (2012, when Peter Laviolette was his head coach, was the last time Simmonds played in a conference semifinal series). Finally, he makes just $3.975 million, leaving the Predators with (roughly) $7 million in cap space.
Sold on Simmonds? Good. You should be. But here’s the rub.
Fiala is the price tag in this scenario.
Nashville’s 2014 first round pick has paid his dues and earned himself a full-time NHL roster spot the past two years. Since scoring two big goals in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs before breaking his femur in the second round against the St. Louis Blues, he’s amassed 60 points in 105 games. He found immediate chemistry with Kyle Turris and Craig Smith once Turris was acquired from the Ottawa Senators in November of last season but has been disappointing at times this year. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but more so from a sense of just being snake bit. His three goals and 12 points are underwhelming after General Manager David Poile spent time this past summer saying Fiala could be a 30-goal scorer.
“If you’re looking for guys to take us to a higher level, could he be a 30 goal scorer this year? Absolutely.”
– #Preds GM David Poile on Kevin Fiala
— Jeremy K. Gover (@govertime) October 3, 2018
Whether Fiala is a victim of expectations or not, it’s a tough sell to deal him for Simmonds. For starters, Fiala is 22 years old and part of the young nucleus Poile has built in Nashville in order to keep their Stanley Cup window open as long as possible. Also, he had 23 goals between November 14 and March 15 last season so he’s shown a high-end offensive touch at the NHL level. Lastly, his cap hit is just $1.363 million this season and, while he does stand for a raise this coming summer, is his inconsistency becoming a pattern? They already went through that once with a prospect they drafted and developed named Colin Wilson. Obviously, Fiala’s production as a 21-year old far outweighs anything Wilson ever did in any one season but are they prepared to deal with the inconsistency of a key player again?
You can hear the entire segment below.
This was such a fascinating topic that I took to Twitter and threw a poll out there. Put simply, would you do this trade or not? The answers I got ran the spectrum. Everything from people who refused to remove all emotion (which, news flash, you have to do in these things) to people who have been wanting to trade him for weeks due to frustration to people who honestly didn’t know what they’d do.
A sample of the responses is below.
The age difference makes it a loss right off the bat. That doesn’t factor in contract status and impending cap hit. Big no. If you are going to trade Fiala, it has to be for another young player. What about Fabbro and Fiala for Nylander? Would Toronto accept?
— Seth Dean (@sethdean) November 29, 2018
100 times over I make that deal.
— achaney91 (@aaronkyndall) November 29, 2018
With Simmonds as a potential rental? You don’t make that deal. Rentals add to a roster, they don’t replace controllable talent. Add in Rubtsov from PHI and a pick from NSH and maybe I’m listening.
— Boyd (@Boyd_1212) November 29, 2018
Man would I love Simmonds on this team but value wise you cant give up a young player with untapped potential like Fiala
— Kyle Leitner (@leitner_kyle) November 29, 2018
I voted no. I think Wayne Simmons would be a great addition to the Predators but not at that trade deal. Needs to be a different player other Fiala or we will need more back from the Flyers. I am sure if a trade is done, GMDP will get the best deal for the @PredsNHL .
— Gregory Anderson (@gpander78) November 29, 2018
Absolutely and resoundingly no. You don’t give up a 22 year old top 6 forward for a guy who’s 30 and an UFA. One of the worst trade ideas I’ve heard in years.
— Glenn Spinner (@glenngineer1) November 29, 2018
Only time will tell, of course, what route (if any) Poile and the Preds go. Regardless, it was a fun conversation this morning that certainly got people talking.