Here's a question: how good will Wayne Simmonds be?
It seems like a simple enough query: he'll be a great 3rd liner or an OK 2nd liner, right? That is a pretty positive prediction and is what's expected from a 2nd round pick. But the thing is, the Meat Train is looking more and more like a great 3rd liner or an OK 2nd liner right now, and he only just turned 21 years old. He's on pace to score 30 goals and 48 points which seems a little unrealistic, but 20 goals and 40 points seems reasonable. He fights, he plays good defense, he leads the league in awesome nicknames and melanin, and again, he only just turned 21 years old. What the hell is this guy's ceiling?
The weirdest thing about Simmonds is that he was drafted as a project, and he still is. Meat is a legit 6'2" and is listed at 182. It's unrealistic to expect him to get up to 220 or anything, but another 20 lbs. of muscle is not an unrealistic expectation for him. Can you imagine Wayne Simmonds with 20 more pounds of muscle? Imagine him going into the corners weighing 200, not 180 like he is now. The irony of Simmonds being nicknamed "Meat Train" is that right now he's skin and bones. When he gets up in weight, though... Jesus, he's going to be good.
I think the most reasonable comparison to Wayne Simmonds is Scott Hartnell. Like Hartnell, Simmonds came up as a youngster because of his defensive capabilities; like Hartnell, Simmonds needed to add muscle to his frame to score goals. They both fight and score and play a simple game that nevertheless gets results. Basically, I expect Simmonds to be like Scott Hartnell except, you know, not a complete douche bag.
We've always upgraded Simmonds' ceiling, from project to Tom Kostopolous to Mike Grier to Chris Neil to Alex Burrows and now to Scott Hartnell. The kid keeps impressing, keeps working, and I'm not sure that he's going to settle for just being Scott hartnell. He's been carrying this team the past week or so, coming through while Anze Kopitar has been slumping. I'm ready to climb aboard the Meat Train. Wait, no, that felt funny coming out of my mouth. Wait, no,
Prediction: Kings win, 3-2. Goals by Simmonds (x2) and Brad Richardson.