Wayne Simmonds signed a two-year, $1.8 million contract to stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. It has an average annual value of $900,000.
The 32-year-old forward could have been an unrestricted free agent July 28. He scored nine points (seven goals, two assists) in 38 regular-season games with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season and had one assist in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“I thought it was a good fit through [this] season,” Simmonds said. “The group of guys we have, I felt really connected to. It was important for me to come back here and be where I can feel comfortable. I spent the past few seasons switching up teams. I have a young 2-year-old daughter, my wife, we’re from Toronto. I thought with our life and, obviously, with the best opportunity to win, I feel being in Toronto is extremely important for me.”
Simmonds said that Toronto’s loss in seven games to the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup First Round, after holding a 3-1 lead in the series, also influenced his decision to return to the Maple Leafs.
“I think that was one of the hardest losses of my life,” he said. “And I think for me, reading about how we failed and what we should have done different and everyone saying what they wanted to say about our players, I think it left a bitter taste in my mouth and a huge sting.
“I know we have a team good enough to go further than the first round and it was extremely important for me to show the guys on the team that I’m in this with them. And I will be. And continue to be. I just wanted to do everything I could possibly do. I just wanted to be back on this team and prove the naysayers wrong.”
Selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round (No. 61) of the 2007 NHL Draft, Simmonds has scored 508 points (258 goals, 250 assists) in 947 regular-season games with the Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers and Kings, and 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 51 playoff games.
NHL.com staff writer Mike Zeisberger contributed to this report