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Slapshot Fantasy

Wayne Simmonds could be your fantasy hockey ringer

April 24, 2016: Philadelphia Flyers Right Wing Wayne Simmonds (17) looks to deflect a shot in front of Capitals Goalie Braden Holtby (70) in the second period during the Round-1 Game 6 Playoff game between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.(Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Yet another year has gone by when Wayne Simmonds’ fantasy value has gone underappreciated. The bruising winger finished well within the top 50 fantasy players in standard scoring categories this season after being the 64th most valuable player in 2014-15.

This year Simmonds saw an increase in his ice time, goal scoring, assist total, penalty minutes, and his shots with the inconsistent Philadelphia Flyers. Despite Jakub Voracek having a tremendously disappointing season that amounted to just 11 goals in 73 games, Simmonds connected with Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn to form a potent first line.

On draft day, selecting skaters who can take advantage of great linemates is a surefire way to get value out of your picks past the first one or two rounds. In the past that appeared to be key to Simmonds’ fantasy value, along with a healthy amount of penalty minutes and hits. But over the past few seasons the soon-to-be 28 year old winger has emerged as a true force in fantasy hockey.

There was a lot more to Simmonds’ big season in 2015-16 than just breaking the 30 goal plateau for the first time.

He set a new career-high in both shots on goal as well as in penalty minutes with the Flyers this season while tying his career-high in points with the 60 he scored in 81 games. The jump in Simmonds’ shot total is likely the most important statistic for fantasy managers.

Simmonds’ growing chemistry with Giroux, one of the best playmakers in hockey, helped him to shoot the puck 41 more times than he did last season. He has successfully carved out a role for himself in Philadelphia’s offense, and nowhere is that role more clear than it is on the Flyers’ power play where his big frame haunts the front of the opposition’s net.

07 JAN 2016: Wayne Simmonds (17) of the Philadelphia Flyers talks to Claude Giroux (28) before the faceoff during the regular season game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by: David Berding/Icon Sportswire)

07 JAN 2016: Wayne Simmonds (17) of the Philadelphia Flyers talks to Claude Giroux (28) before the faceoff. (Photo by: David Berding/Icon Sportswire)

It has now been three straight seasons with Philadelphia that Simmonds has scored over 20 power play points. There’s no denying that he has been a nightmare for opposing goaltenders, but he is all but guaranteed to improve on his power play production next season with a full year of rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere on the horizon.

In 64 games this season Gostisbehere had 22 power play points, eight of which were goals. The impact he could have on the Flyers’ power play and Simmonds’ production on the man advantage next season is immense.

Simmonds finishing the fantasy season as the 35th most valuable player. He was projected by most analysts to finish just inside of the top 100, making him a sneaky good pick.

The fact that he plays wing on a line with one of hockey’s most talented centers while being one of just two top-100 fantasy players to have over 100 penalty minutes last season (the other being Dustin Byfuglien) makes him a rare commodity on draft day.

It’s easy to overlook fantasy skaters who have their value inflated by penalty minutes, but in terms of absolute value (overall rank) Simmonds was more valuable than Giroux, Schenn, or Voracek last season. Simmonds led the Flyers with five fighting majors and earned 10 or more penalty minutes in a single game five times last season.

Simmonds is not only the kind of player that can singlehandedly win you the weekly battle for penalty minutes with his passionate and sometimes reckless play, he is an underrated winger that has shown a real ability to get shots on net, score goals, and make an impact on the power play.

Which makes Simmonds a safer, and more promising, pick than quite a few “bigger” names in hockey come draft day.

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