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With next to nothing happening in the hockey world, I've decided to take the plunge and write daily profiles for members of the New Jersey Devils.
I'll be commenting on the year each player just had as well as their projected role and expectations for 2019-20. I've written 15 thus far, with Mackenzie Blackwood being the most recent player profiled
Today we're taking a closer look at Wayne Simmonds.
79 games played, 30 points (17 goals, 13 assists), 15:39 average time on ice
1.09 points/60, -3.24 CF% Rel, -5.51 GF% Rel, -1.14 xGF% Rel, 0.989 PDO
It was not a good season for Wayne Simmonds. There's no way around that. He spent most of his season on an underwhelming Flyers team and yet they were more successful in terms of controlling shots, expected goals, and goals without him on the ice than with him. He was also very inefficient producing points at 5v5, where players like Cal Clutterbuck, Pavel Zacha, Luke Glendening, and *300+* others recorded more per 60 minutes played. He took quite a few penalties as well, although he was also good at drawing them and only ended up a net minus-2.
Taking a glass half full approach, Simmonds still potted a respectable 17 goals while fighting through injuries and his expected goal total (22.44) suggests he deserved more. He was also still able to make an impact physically, landing 137 hits. Blake Coleman was the only player on the Devils to record more.
Simmonds scored 5.44 goals fewer than expected, which was the 11th worst differential in the NHL. One would have to think he'll be a little luckier next season.
Simmonds might not end up playing in the top-6 at even-strength as was originally thought. He shouldn't anyway – not after all the moves Ray Shero has made. With that said, he'll no doubt carve out a top-9 role where he can chip in offensively and provide some bite the Devils have been lacking.
Where Simmonds will be most impactful, I think, is on the power play. He has been one of the league's best net-front players for as long as I can remember and the Devils like to feature players in that role (see Boyle, Brian).
With Taylor Hall, Nikita Gusev, Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, among others, the Devils have plenty of players to create chances on PP. They have some big shots with Kyle Palmieri and P.K. Subban in the mix, too. They need somebody to get to the front of the net, make life miserable for the goaltender, and bury all the garbage. That's what Simmonds is best at. If not anything else, he should provide real value on the man advantage.
numbers via naturalstattrick.com and hockey-reference.com
best forward duo in the Metro?
Best forward duo in the Atlantic Division?
Top-5 centers 22 & under?
top-5 wingers in the Eastern Conference?
On Will Butcher's three-year extension
On the Nikita Gusev trade
Pavel Zacha will play an important role in 2019-20
Wayne Simmonds' poor 2018-19 campaign was not a one-off