Could the Bruins afford asking price for Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds?
PHILADELPHIA — Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds leads most informal polls on the most-likely-be-dealt list as the Feb. 25 trade deadline approaches.
Simmonds, 30, is second among Flyers goal scorers after Wednesday night’s 4-3 win here against the Bruins (his 15 trailing Sean Couturier’s 19) and he is typically good for 25 goals and 55 points per season. His long-term contract set to expire June 30, he also is on target to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
The Bruins are desperate to find Krejci an upgrade at wing, be it left or right, and Simmonds is a 6-foot-2-inch righthanded shot who is comfortable on both sides. Given his straight-ahead style, he likely would line up on the right side (as Rick Nash did a year ago) and DeBrusk on the left side.
The cost to acquire Simmonds: higher than any Bruins fan would want. The Flyers will want a first-round pick in the deal, with a prospect or two added. The Bruins have the prospects, more than they’ve had in years, but GM Don Sweeney likely would find it impossible to part with the first rounder again after surrendering one a year ago in the Nash deal.
Backes takes a seat
Not far down the street from the historic Liberty Bell, nearly within hearing distance of where America’s independence first rang, the career bell began to toll here Wednesday morning for David Backes.
The proud Bruins forward, veteran of 896 NHL games, was a scratch (coach’s decision) for the first time since he became an everyday player in 2006-07, his spot in the lineup taken by AHL call-up Peter Cehlarik for the game here vs. the Flyers. Cehlarik scored twice Wednesday.
All new territory for the 34-year-old Backes, who was held off the scoresheet again Monday night (vs. Montreal) and has delivered a meager line of 4-8—12 in his 38 games this season.
Unsurprisingly, the ever-classy Backes was unflinchingly pleasant and accommodating upon meeting with the media after his near hour-long morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center. He said he preferred to frame the disappointment as an opportunity to reset, yet acknowledged his new assignment was a blow to his ego.
“It’s a . . . it’s a kick in the bag, but . . . ,” he said, choosing his words carefully, “. . . are you going to sulk and cry, or are you going to take it as a challenge to reset, get your butt going? If this means I sit tonight and I am fresh against my old squad tomorrow, then maybe we’ll find a silver lining there and we can be a big contributor tomorrow night.”
The St. Louis Blues, a team Backes captained for years prior to signing with the Bruins as a free agent in July 2016, face the Bruins Thursday night at the Garden. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy sounded as if he is planning on putting him back in the lineup after a one-game respite, but made clear that he had not made up his mind.
“Tough decision, obviously,” said Cassidy, acknowledging the angst around informing the likes of Backes it was time to take a seat. “Veteran guy . . . brings a lot to the table, intangibles . . . but it’s a back-to-back and I am sure he will get back in there tomorrow. I never like to promise things, but . . . ”
The move was made, in part, to get a look at Cehlarik as the latest candidate to help wring dependable, consistent scoring out of a No. 2 line centered by David Krejci. Backes lined up with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk again Monday, in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Habs, but Cassidy early in the second period began an unremitting — and unproductive — series of changes to both the second and third lines.
When the night was over, Backes had logged a paltry 11:40 of ice time, triggering the call to AHL Providence for the 23-year-old Cehlarik to drive the hour north to the varsity.
Backes slimmed down some 10-12 pounds in the offseason, hoping to add a half step to his game in a league that seems to gain a full step every season. He hasn’t been behind plays as much as he’s been out of synch, his hands and puck/situational reads not what they need to be when riding with Krejci and DeBrusk.
“I think you can always do more,” said Backes, asked by a Globe reporter what else he could do, given his earnest attempts over the summer to increase his speed. “I don’t see where I am taking shortcuts by any means.”
The Bruins outshot the Flyers by a whopping, 42-19. It was the sixth time in the last 10 games that they reached the 40-shot plateau. They stand 2-3-1 in those six games . . . The Bruins will not work out in Brighton Thursday morning and instead report to work late in the afternoon at the Garden . . . David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron each finished with five shots on net . . . Sean Couturier scored on three of his five shots on Jaroslav Halak.
Moore sits again
Defenseman John Moore was scratched from the Boston backline for a third straight game. Moore’s play has been fine, but improved health among the blueliners has left Cassidy with a rare surplus of defenders, including Moore and Steve Kampfer.