Although the NHL free agency period didn’t officially begin until July 1st, rumors of players signing with their new teams were coming out Sunday night. Although not mentioned in any of the rumors for “top tier” players, Ray Shero still managed to make a move to improve the upcoming roster.

Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The New Jersey Devils signed Wayne Simmonds to a one year five million dollar contract. This may not be a signing to compare to Panarin like some are hoping for. However, it is the right move for the Devils. Simmonds will bring skill, grit, leadership and a great locker room presence, which is a great feature to have on a team full of young players. Next seasons roster will most likely include Hughes, Hischier, Bratt, and Boqvist, a guy like Simmonds is definitely needed to protect them.

Although coming off a slump season, Simmonds is hoping to turn that around this season. During his time with the Flyers Simmonds has proven to be a consistent 25-30 goal scorer, another skill New Jersey was lacking. He will also fill a void as a power forward in front of the net, filling in for the missing Brian Boyle. In addition to his skill and grit, as mentioned he will bring leadership and a locker room presence that’s important for younger players. A player being happy knowing exactly what his role is and helping mold the future is kind of a behind the scenes role that not many notices.

In a Q&A interview with Simmonds New Jersey Devils beat reporter Amanda Stein asked Simmonds how his conversation with Coach Hynes went. Wayne replied, “He made me feel wanted and like I was a piece to the puzzle. I definitely appreciated that”. New Jersey needs another piece or two, but Simmonds absolutely helps.

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