Maple Leafs sign Wayne Simmonds to 1-year deal

Wayne Simmonds has decided to go home.

The gritty winger from Toronto signed a one-year, US$1.5-million contract with the Maple Leafs as NHL free agency opened Friday.

Simmonds, 32, has registered 251 goals and 499 points in 909 career games with the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres over his 12 NHL seasons.

The 61st pick in the 2007 draft by Los Angeles has added 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 44 playoff outings.

Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said earlier this week he wants his talent-rich roster to be harder to play against, and the six-foot-two, 185-pound Simmonds — along with his 1,123 career penalty minutes — should help support the likes of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander up front.

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Toronto was left bitterly disappointed following five-game defeat at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the qualifying round of this summer’s restart to the NHL’s pandemic-delayed 2019-20 campaign

That setback came on the heels of consecutive seven-game losses to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs in both 2018 and 2019.

Simmonds is the second veteran forward to sign with the Leafs in recent days after 37-year-old Jason Spezza — another Toronto native — re-upped for $700,000 in 2020-21.

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