Player evaluation: Simmonds
This season: 80 games, 14 goals, 16 assists, 75 penalty minutes, 13:27 average ice time.
The good: When on his game, Simmonds did exactly what made him a success in his first two seasons: he was constantly on the move, hitting people in all three zones, forechecking to set up opportunities for linemates and displaying an underrated wrist shot that has led observers to believe he has 20-goal potential. At the end of the season, Simmonds had seemed to find that game while on a line with Brad Richardson and Kyle Clifford.
The bad: After two many games this season, one could ask: “Where was Simmonds?” It wasn’t only that Simmonds’ point production dropped, but that he often seemed to be far less of a disruptive force on the ice, in all situations. Simmonds played two more games this season than last season, but his statistics in nearly every significant category — goals, assists, plus-minus, shots on goal, average ice time, hits and blocked shots — took at least a small drop.
Going forward: There’s no question that Simmonds has the ability to rediscover his game. It popped up for brief periods during the regular season, particularly near the end. Simmonds is no longer a stranger to NHL opponents. They’re prepared for him and his hard-skating, crash-and-bang style. That only means that Simmonds will need to redouble his efforts in 2011-12 and show the same type of fire that made him a success in his first two seasons.