For the Los Angeles Kings, this season has been full of bright spots. Among them, the breakout year of Anze Kopitar, the great play from Ryan Smith and Rob Scuderi—the team’s main offseason acquisitions—and the surprising Scott Parse who got called up from Manchester not too long ago.
One of the brightest though has to be the way Wayne Simmonds has performed over the first part of the season. Through 19 games he has collected 11 points (5-6) and is on pace for a 20-20 season.
Not great numbers when compared to the league leaders, but definitely a lot more than was expected at the beginning of the year. Simmonds was expected to provide a little middleweight muscle to the Kings lineup, a role that has been missing since Sean Avery left.
Even though Simmonds has not dropped the gloves as often as he did last year, he has contributed tremendously on both ends of the ice. He leads the team with a plus/minus +11 to go along his 11 points.
Simmonds has played so well this year that he was rewarded with first line duty after Justin Williams got injured. Simmonds adjusted and responded well to new linemates Smyth and Kopitar, so well in fact that some were questioning whether Williams would have his spot back upon return from injury.
Simmonds though, was shifted back to the third line after Williams returned reason being that Terry Murray does not believe in a player losing his spot due to injury.
The main reason for Simmonds’ great start is obvious if you’ve ever watched him play. Shift after shift he is out there battling and trying to outwork the opponent. He goes into the tough areas to win pucks; he is strong on the forecheck and plays smart on both ends of the ice.
Unlike Kopitar, his play will never look pretty, he’s the blue collar type player that often goes unnoticed by the media but is well respected by his teammates and coaching staff. Simmonds brings effort and energy every time he hits the ice, and his play will help the Kings get to where they want to be.
Simmonds has a bright future ahead; in only his second season he has demonstrated he has the potential to be special. If he continues to put in the work, expect great things from him in the years to come.