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The Maple Leafs Wayne Simmonds Was One Good Hockey Player

The Toronto Maple Leafs Wayne Simmonds hit the waiver wires yesterday. He likely won’t be claimed. What happens to him now?

Although this post is ultimately about Wayne Simmonds leaving, let’s start by talking about Alex Steeves’ rise to the Maple Leafs.

Alex Steeves, Maple Leafs

Steeves has been playing well both in the NHL and AHL. He played on Monday night in the AHL, and he might play tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. Steeves had played two games last week with the big club but was sent down to get some playing time in.

Steeves hasn’t scored yet in the NHL, but he’s looked good trying.


Will Steeves Play Tonight? Perhaps Not.

During yesterday’s practice, Steeves wore a grey scratch sweater. That usually indicates that he likely won’t be in the lineup for the next game – which is tonight. Obviously, Steeves’ place in the lineup (or not) is a game-time decision. That means that Steeves might still be inserted into the lineup.

It was not surprising, given how Steeves played last week, that the organization wanted to call him back to the Maple Leafs. What is interesting is that the organization called him up, but he might not play.

Even more interesting, given his tenuousness in (or out) of the lineup is that, to make room for Steeves, the Maple Leafs’ waived Wayne Simmonds.

Simmonds Had to Be Placed on Waivers to Be Moved Down

Yesterday, Simmonds was placed on waivers by the Maple Leafs. Although Simmonds had successfully cleared waivers earlier this season, he was on the team’s roster for more than 30 days and 10 games. So he had to go through waivers again.

The organization believes this move will be a “paper transaction.” That means they believe no other team will claim him and that Simmonds will remain with the Maple Leafs – probably as a healthy scratch.

With Auston Matthews due to return tonight, a move had to be made as a way to create roster space for his return from injured reserve. It would be a huge surprise if that move were not successful.

Still, what does that say about Simmonds? If Steeves won’t play tomorrow, why bring him up and move Simmonds down? Probably because they can.

Related: Could the Maple Leafs Get Conor Garland and Move Alex Kerfoot?

Simmonds Has Played a Very Limited Roll This Season

Simmonds’ value has bottomed out. He has played a limited role with the team this season. In that role, he has registered only a single assist in 13 games.

He’s still a willing warrior. He’s still a leader both on and off the ice and provides physical play every time he’s called upon. I doubt that another NHL team would choose to claim him off waivers before the deadline on Wednesday.

My point here is not to make a case that the Maple Leafs should do anything different. They need to ice a team they think will win, and Simmonds is not part of that plan. I don’t think they’re wrong.

Simmonds Won’t Play Beyond this Season

From what I have seen, Simmonds won’t play beyond this season. His NHL career is coming to an end. Although his physical play and willingness to stick up for his teammates are valued qualities, his overall skillset has diminished rapidly in recent years.

This season, he’s averaging less than eight minutes of ice time per game. Other than against the odd team whose physical play is in your face – the Washington Capitals, for example – Simmonds sees little ice time. To be blunt, the Maple Leafs’ coaching staff doesn’t have a lot of faith in his ability to contribute offensively or defensively.

Steeves Is an Up-and-Comer and Will Replace Simmonds

The addition of Steeves to the roster is a clear signal that the Maple Leafs are moving on from Simmonds. Steeves is a young player who’s shown ability at the AHL level and will be given more opportunities to prove himself at the NHL level.

Forgetting all the context (if that’s possible), the transaction yesterday was simple. Steeves came up, and Simmonds went down. Steeves replaced Simmonds in the lineup (or as a healthy scratch).

If This Is the End for Simmonds, Thank You

The point of my post is that it’s worth remembering the kind of NHL career that Simmonds had. He was the typical power forward. Although his scoring days are over, he brings a ton of experience and leadership. Will the Maple Leafs’ find him a valuable asset sometime during the end of this season? Any NHL team needs those kinds of intangibles.

Is this the end for Simmonds? Will he even get in another game with the Maple Leafs, or is his playing career completely over? Is it time to move on to other things?

If this is indeed the end for Simmonds, he leaves a grand legacy. He was one tough, hard-nosed hockey player who (from what we have seen in his two seasons with the Maple Leafs) put his team first. He was a very good NHL hockey player.

Congratulations to him whatever happens.

Related: Taking a Minute to Appreciate Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews



  1. gfinale

    February 14, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    Wayne Simmonds WAS a good NHL hockey player. At 6’2″ and only about 185 lbs though, that’s no power, no grit or toughness. He’s way too light for his height. Apparently, he hasn’t been paying attention and getting himself in the right shape for the way he plays the past few years. Consequently, he’s been marginalized. Contrary to that, John Tavares obviously did enormous work in the right directions over the off season to be ready this year.

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