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Maple Leafs sign Wayne Simmonds, add sandpaper to lineup

For weeks, Kyle Dubas repeatedly had said he wanted his Maple Leafs “to become harder to play against.”

Well, before free agency had even been open for an hour, he added gritty veteran forward Wayne Simmonds for one year, $1.5 million.

Simmonds spent 2019-20 with the Devils before being traded at the deadline in February to the Sabres. In 68 total games, he had eight goals and 17 assists and 66 penalty minutes. Over the course of his 13-year career, he’s potted 251 goals and 248 assists — 166 points on the power play — along with 1,123 penalty minutes in 909 career games. 

A native of Scarborough, Ont., Simmonds brings an element the Leafs have long been lacking. While they’re a highly skilled forward group with the likes of Mitchell Marner, John Tavares and Auston Matthews, the team needed some sandpaper. 

As he said on Sportsnet after the signing, per the Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby: “I can play the game — and at the same time I can punch your head off (1,123 penalty minutes). I’m a team-first guy. Anything that happens to the boys, I will be the first to jump in.”

While Simmonds will add a physical, hard-nosed style to the squad, he also has a scoring touch and loves to head to the front of the net especially on the power play.

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