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Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

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Claude Giroux was handed the Philadelphia Flyers’ customary player-of-the-game helmet after his shake-and-bake overtime winner, but he said he couldn’t accept it.

He passed it to Jake Voracek, who scored the goal with 19.7 seconds left that forced overtime in front of 69,602 rain-soaked fans in the 2019 Stadium Series.

But on that night, even after a spine-tingling comeback against the rival Penguins, Voracek and everyone in the room recognized what loomed before the trade deadline.

Saturday night was likely Wayne Simmonds’ last game in a Flyers sweater.

“In this situation, we don’t know what’s going to happen Monday,” Voracek said in the home of the Eagles, with cameras rolling. “But I’ve got to give it to one of my best friends. He deserves it for all of the years he’s been here. Whatever happens, Simmy, we love you. Hopefully you’re going to stay around. This one’s for you, buddy.”

The two shared an emotional hug.

“That was an unbelievable game, boys,” Simmonds told the team. “It’s been an honour and a pleasure. I hope I’m still here, but either way boys, keep making this push. Keep our hopes alive and our dreams alive.”

Simmonds, 30, is a pending unrestricted free agent - a warrior who averaged 29 goals over each of the last five seasons - and is ranked No. 2 on the latest TSN Trade Bait board for a team looking to add muscle and a heavy winger for the playoff push.

Incoming GM Chuck Fletcher has given the Flyers every opportunity to claw back into the race with Simmonds. They sat in 31st place on Jan. 9, but an eight-game winning streak brought them within five points of a playoff spot. The problem is they have gotten no closer.

They are 13-3-1 in their last 17 games but still sit seven points back of the final spot now and do not hold any tiebreakers. It’s an unrealistic summit to mount in the final quarter of the season.

Two things could keep Simmonds in Philadelphia: a last-minute tug at the heartstrings by Fletcher to forego free agency with a team-friendly deal, or trade offers that only net secondary assets in return.

In that case, Fletcher has vowed to keep Simmonds for the final push.

But the belief is that Simmonds, even with a less productive 16-goal season and recent injury history, could still bring back a conditional first-round pick and a prospect.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were one of the first teams to contact Fletcher about Simmonds in January. He would add bite to a stacked Lightning team that many believe got pushed around by the heavier Capitals in last year’s Eastern Conference Final. 

They are one of a handful of teams to express significant interest. Simmonds holds a 12-team, no-trade clause and the Flyers want to make sure one of their all-time fan favourites finds a comfortable landing spot after eight years of exemplary service.

Simmonds said he took time to soak it all in. If Saturday was the way it ended after 584 games, there may have been no sweeter send-off.

“Yeah, I looked around,” Simmonds told reporters. “It’s not often you get to play in front of 70,000 people. Obviously, you don’t know what my future holds here. It was nice to stand out there and get that win and have all those cheers.”

Here is TSN Hockey’s latest Trade Bait board, which always seeks to blend a player’s prominence with his likelihood of a trade:
 

THE TOP 50

 
Trend Player Pos Age GP G PTS Cap Hit Years
  1. Mark Stone, OTT RW 26 59 28 62 $7.35M UFA
  2. Wayne Simmonds, PHI RW 30 62 16 27 $3.98M UFA
  3. Kevin Hayes, NYR C 26 51 14 42 $5.18M UFA
  4. Jets' 1st-Round Pick              
  5. Gustav Nyquist, DET RW 29 60 15 48 $4.75M UFA
  6. Marcus Johansson, NJD LW 28 48 12 27 $4.58M UFA
  7. Adam McQuaid, NYR RD 32 36 2 5 $2.75M UFA
Embedded Image 8. Derick Brassard, FLA C 31 50 10 19 $5M UFA
  9. Jimmy Howard, DET G 34 42 2.88 0.91 $5.3M UFA
Embedded Image 10. Artemi Panarin, CBJ LW 27 58 24 68 $6M UFA
  11. Jack Roslovic, WPG RW/C 22 60 7 17 $894K 1
  12. Micheal Ferland, CAR LW 26 52 16 33 $1.75M UFA
  13. Dougie Hamilton, CAR RD 25 61 10 24 $5.75M 2
  14. Jason Zucker, MIN LW 27 61 14 30 $5.5M 4
  15. Eeli Tolvanen, NSH RW 19 4 1 2 $894K 2
  16. Josh Ho-Sang, NYI RW 23 10 1 2 $863K RFA
  17. Mike Hoffman, FLA RW 29 60 26 51 $5.19M 1
  18. Adam Henrique, ANA C 29 62 12 32 $5.83M 5
  19. Alexander Wennberg, CBJ C 24 59 2 23 $4.9M 4
  20. Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA LW 25 60 17 60 $5.9M 4
  21. Artem Anisimov, CHI C 30 58 10 28 $4.55M 2
  22. Cody Ceci, OTT RD 24 57 5 20 $4.3M RFA
  23. Alec Martinez, LAK RD 31 43 4 15 $4M 2
  24. Jeff Carter, LAK C 33 55 10 25 $5.27M 3
Embedded Image 25. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ G 30 44 2.82 0.906 $7.43M UFA
  26. Brett Pesce, CAR RD 23 53 5 16 $4.03M 5
  27. Luke Glendening, DET C 29 62 9 20 $1.8M 2
  28. Alex Chiasson, EDM RW 28 52 17 27 $650K UFA
  29. Andre Burakovsky, WSH LW 23 56 8 18 $3M RFA
  30. Eric Staal, MIN C 34 61 18 39 $3.5M UFA
  31. Justin Faulk, CAR RD 26 62 7 24 $4.83M 1
  32. Ryan Callahan, TBL RW 33 44 6 15 $5.8M 1
  33. Chris Kreider, NYR LW 27 61 25 46 $4.63M 1
  34. Alex Steen, STL LW 34 45 7 20 $5.75M 2
  35. Markus Granlund, VAN C 25 60 9 19 $1.48M RFA
  36. Patrik Nemeth, COL LD 27 54 1 7 $2.5M UFA
  37. Michael Del Zotto, ANA LD 28 35 1 7 $3M UFA
  38. Vlad Namestnikov, NYR LW 25 57 7 21 $4M 1
  39. Nikolay Goldobin, VAN LW 23 53 6 25 $863K RFA
  40. Jesse Puljujarvi, EDM RW 20 46 4 9 $925K RFA
  41. Mikkel Boedker, OTT LW 29 54 6 29 $4M 1
  42. Tobias Rieder, EDM LW 26 47 0 11 $2M RFA
  43. Alex Petrovic, EDM RD 26 35 0 2 $1.95M UFA
  44. Nathan Beaulieu, BUF LD 26 30 3 7 $2.4M RFA
  45. Bogdan Kiselevich, FLA LD 28 32 0 8 $925K UFA
  46. John Hayden, CHI RW 24 45 3 4 $750K 1
  47. Jamie McGinn, FLA LW 30 2 1 1 $3.33M UFA
  48. Andreas Johnsson, TOR LW 24 54 17 33 $788K RFA
  49. Kasperi Kapanen, TOR RW 22 61 18 38 $863K RFA
  50. Jeff Skinner, BUF LW 26 61 36 55 $5.73M UFA
 

TRADED:

No. 2: Matt Duchene - Ottawa to Columbus on Feb. 22
No. 5: Maple Leafs’ first-round pick - Toronto to Los Angeles on Jan. 28
No. 6: Mats Zuccarello - New York Rangers to Dallas on Feb. 23
No. 6: Cam Talbot - Edmonton to Philadelphia on Feb. 15
No. 7: Ryan Dzingel - Ottawa to Columbus on Feb. 23
No. 8: Derick Brassard - Pittsburgh to Florida on Feb. 1
No. 9: Charlie Coyle - Minnesota to Boston on Feb. 20
No. 11: Brian Boyle - New Jersey to Nashville on Feb. 6
No. 11: Nick Jensen - Detroit to Washington on Feb. 22
No. 13: Chris Wideman - Ottawa to Edmonton on Nov. 22
No. 14: Tanner Pearson - Los Angeles to Pittsburgh on Nov. 14
No. 17: Jake Muzzin - Los Angeles to Toronto on Jan. 28
No. 21: Ben Lovejoy - New Jersey to Dallas on Feb. 23
No. 27: Alex Petrovic - Florida to Edmonton on Dec. 29
No. 27: Nino Niederreiter - Minnesota to Carolina on Jan. 17
No. 28: Nick Bjugstad - Florida to Pittsburgh on Feb. 1
No. 28: Brandon Manning - Chicago to Edmonton on Dec. 29
No. 35: Michael Del Zotto - Vancouver to Anaheim on Jan. 16
No. 35: Jamie Oleksiak - Pittsburgh to Dallas on Jan. 29
No. 36: Luke Schenn - Anaheim to Vancouver on Jan. 16  
No. 39: Carl Hagelin - Los Angeles to Washington on Feb. 21
No. 48: Dale Weise - Philadelphia to Montreal on Feb. 9