Philadelphia Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds scored his most important goal of the season Thursday night in the final minute of the third period against the Maple Leafs. The score pushed the game into overtime and even though Philadelphia eventually lost, the one point keeps the Flyers within reach of a playoff spot with two games to play.
For fantasy owners, the late goal from Simmonds was important for a different reason. The tally means the 27-year-old reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his eight-year career.
But owners shouldn’t let the career high number of goals confuse them. The 2015-16 season has been “groundhog day” again for the Flyers winger.
Philadelphia acquired Simmonds in a trade from Los Angeles before the 2011-12 season, and it’s pretty incredible how consistent his numbers have been since the acquisition. In 2013-14, he had career highs nearly across the board with 29 goals, including 15 power-play markers, 31 assists, 60 points and 209 shots on net.
The 27-year-old played fewer games the following year, but the numbers stayed mostly the same. He had 28 goals, 14 power-play scores, 22 assists, 50 points, and 188 shots on goal in 2014-15.
Simmonds has managed to set several new career-highs this season, but again, the statistics are eerily similar: 30 goals, 13 power-play scores, 28 assists, 58 points and 225 shots on goal.
It has yet to be confirmed whether he makes the drive to Punxsutawney, PA from Philadelphia every Feb. 2 or if he just listens to Sonny and Cher’s song I’ve Got You Babe every morning, but it does appear as though Simmonds is Mr. “Groundhog Day” in fantasy hockey. How else can one explain Simmonds posting between 28-30 goals, 50-60 points, 13-15 power-play goals and 188-225 shots on goal for three straight seasons?
Actually, if not for the lockout-shortened 2013 season, there is a strong chance this would be his fifth straight season finishing within these very small range of totals. In 45 games that season, he had 15 goals, 32 points and 110 shots on goal. Assuming he maintained that pace over the course of a 82-game season, he would have recorded 27 goals, 58 points and 200 shots on net.
What about the season before, which was his first in Philadelphia? Simmonds had 28 goals, 49 points and 197 shots on goal.
Below is a full breakdown of his season numbers with the Flyers assuming he maintained that season’s pace over the course of 82 games. (The 2015-16 stats are through 80 games).
Season Goals Assists Points Plus/Minus PIM PPG SOG
2011-12 28 21 49 -1 114 11 197
2012-13 27 31 58 -12 149 11 200
2013-14 29 31 60 -4 106 15 209
2014-15 31 24 55 -5 72 15 206
2015-16 30 28 58 -9 147 13 225
Even the plus/minus and penalty minutes are close to identical. The only outlier on this entire chart is his fewer penalty minutes from 2014-15. In every other season, he has averaged well over 1.0 PIM per game.
The truly amazing thing about Simmonds’ consistency is that he’s had three different coaches, Peter Laviolette, Craig Berube and Dave Hakstol while in Philadelphia. And still, his per game averages come out about the same.
So, as Phil Connors would ask, “What would you do if you were stuck in once place and every day was the same?”
As tempting as learning ice sculpting may be, in the case of fantasy hockey’s Mr. Groundhog, one would draft him in the 10th round of 10-team leagues over and over and over again.
Next season, there may be a player with higher upside or a guy who will record a better plus/minus available in the 10th round, but it will be hard to find a better guarantee than Simmonds. Owners can practically bet the house that he will register at least 28 goals, 55 points, 110 penalty minutes and 200 shots on goal.
Recording the same old numbers year after year is boring, but for Simmonds’ fantasy owners, it’s very effective.