EL SEGUNDO, CA — Wiry but rugged right wing Wayne Simmonds turned a lot of heads at the Los Angeles Kings’ 2007-08 training camp after being selected in the second round (61st overall) of the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft. Almost one year later, he turned heads again at the team’s annual Development Camp last month.
Standing out at the camp comes as no surprise, given Simmonds’ performance in training camp last season as well as his improvement in junior hockey.
To illustrate, in the 2006-07 season, his first in the Ontario Hockey League, Simmonds scored 23 goals and added 26 assists for 49 points in 66 games with 112 penalty minutes for the Owen Sound Attack.
But last season, Simmonds turned on the jets while splitting time with Owen Sound and the Sault Ste. Marie (Soo) Greyhounds, also in the OHL.
In 31 games with Owen Sound, Simmonds scored 16 goals and added 20 assists for 36 points with 68 penalty minutes. After being traded to the Greyhounds, Simmonds scored 17 goals and tallied 22 assists for 39 points with 43 penalty minutes in 29 games.
In all, Simmonds scored 33 goals and 42 assists for 75 points with 111 penalty minutes last season, a 26-point improvement over his 2006-07 season.
To be sure, Simmonds plays a physical style, but he is certainly not a one-dimensional forward.
“I’m just full intensity,” said Simmonds. “If I can get a lick on you, I’ll get a lick on you, but I think I’ve got a little bit of a finesse game at the same time.”
Despite his improvement last season, Simmonds still has a lot to work on.
“I’ve been working hard all year long on parts of my game that I think are weaker,” said Simmonds. “I’ve been getting better at certain things. I’ve been working on puck protection skills and going through the neutral zone with the puck and not stick-handling as much.”
His work on his game notwithstanding, Simmonds might have a problem because he plays a rugged, physical style, but does not have the size to do that at the NHL level.
Indeed, when you look at Simmonds without his hockey gear, the word “skinny” comes immediately to mind. Clearly, getting stronger and adding bulk to his 6-1, 162-pound frame has to be the Kings’ biggest concern. In fact, one look at Simmonds makes one wonder if he can bulk up enough.
“The main focus has been to get bigger and stronger” he said. “I’ve put on a little weight and I got a bit faster.”
Assuming Simmonds can bulk up and get stronger, he would be a welcome addition to the Kings, who have often been pushed around in games over the last few seasons because they have lacked skilled forwards who play with an aggressive, physical edge and can effectively stand up for their teammates.
To be sure, Simmonds is no stranger to dropping the gloves.
“It’s part of my game,” he said. “The aggressiveness comes naturally to me. I don’t really go looking for it, but if it presents itself, I’m not shy.”
Next season, Simmonds is likely to wind up with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate. However, even though he is twenty years old, he could find himself back in the OHL.
“I have an over-age year in the OHL, but next year, I’m eligible to play in Manchester,” said Simmonds.
But like all young prospects, Simmonds is hoping to make the Kings’ lineup out of training camp, which starts on September 20.
“I think I’d benefit more playing at the pro level against men who are bigger and stronger,” said Simmonds. “It would be better for me to get used to that. But I’m just going to come into camp focused. I’m going to work as hard as I can and see where that takes me.”
“It would be nice to make the team, that would be a thrill. But whereever they put me I’ll be happy.”
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Great article Gann. The height is there but the weight is something he will really need to work on. He seems to be a hard-enough worker and has really come a long way since being drafted in 2007 so hopefully he can continue working on his size. I really like this pick and he has the potential to be a diamond in the rough for Dean Lombardi.
Get this guy some meat and potatoes because he needs the great size to go with his great attitude. I love to hope for a guy like this because, from the little i’ve heard, he sounds like a good kid that respects his abilities. At 6′-1″ he should be able to get up to around 210 eventually. His metabolism is probably going like gangbusters and I would even guess he has trouble sleeping after a full day of work, like I used to be. Good luck kid and get on the exercycle and pull ups.
Gann, any idea what weight Teubert is currently hovering around?
You want info on Teubert? I’ll have a story on him eventually, probably later this week or the following week. Gotta spread around the interviews I have to keep things going over the summer. :-)
185-190… but he’s 6’4″…
ericd: You’re referring to Teubert, right?
gann, other guys i’d like to know about where their heads are: handzus and calder. It would be great to know their attitude with the new coach and a new season in which the kings will need them to improve.
That’ll have to wait until training camp.
I’m a little confused by this part:
“ext season, Simmonds is likely to wind up with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate. However, even though he is twenty years old, he could find himself back in the OHL.
“I have an over-age year in the OHL, but next year, I’m eligible to play in Manchester,” said Simmonds.”
That doesn’t mean he ISN’T eligible to play in the AHL this coming season, does it?
I’m not 100% clear on that.
No…it means that, although he’ll be 20 years old when the 2008-09 season begins, making him eligible to play in the AHL (or ECHL, for that matter), he has a year of junior eligibility left.
I doubt very highly the Kings will want him to return to the OHL.
Wow, is that 162 lbs for SIMMONDS right NOW?
I saw that weight listed for him LAST season.
I figured he would add a few lbs onto that by now.
He hasn’t gained ANY weight this past year?
You’ve got an excellent website, by the way.
That stat is the most recent available from the Kings and from the Owen Sound Attack, but is probably what he weighed to start last season. That said, his legs still make me think “toothpicks” right off the bat, so he still needs to bulk up…big time.
Thanks for the kind words…now go tell every Kings and hockey fan you know about it! :-)
One thing to keep in mind…hockey players tend to lose weight during the season because they have little time to hit the weight room between practice and games. And during practice and games, they lose weight.
Do these young guys have access to good trainers and strength coaches, or are they left to their own devices outside of LA?
Yes. During the Development Camp and throughout the summer, they work with the Kings’ strength and conditioning staff. In fact, many of the prospects were supposed to stay in LA to work with them through early August before going home for a few weeks before training camp back here next month.
If he can get up to 185, this kid is going to be dynamite. Caught a couple Owen Sound games when I was up North last year, he is the real deal. Great intensity and a pretty fluid game, it’s no wonder he impressed the Hockey Canada folks and made the team.
Wayne IS the real deal, went to high school with him and have followed him since his start in owen sound. At first glance everyone notices the weight and yes it is an issue, but he has all the tools in place to be an excellent NHL’er and i hope only the best for him.
also, anyone thinking that his slim build means hes a pushover, you thought wrong.
good luck simmer
Based on what I hear on the radio and read (since pre-season games aren’t televised so I haven’t actually seen him play), Simmonds has the grit, attitude, and skills to be an asset to the Kings now. Those of you who have seen him play, help me out here: Is it too much of a reach to say that his game in some ways resembles O’Sullivan’s and as such, could fill that slot while Sully’s situation plays out? I tell you what, if I’m an opponent watching Simmonds and Brown coming at me, I know this will only end painfully for me… The Kings may not post many wins this season but they sure will be fun to watch.
Gann, as usual, you are doing more work and should be getting more credit than people who do it for a living. My hope is the more exposure you get, the more recognition will come with it.