New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic has requested a trade to a Western Canadian NHL team. Read on for the latest.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman broke the story yesterday that the New York Islanders are trying to move defenseman Travis Hamonic, who requested a trade last summer for personal reasons. His preference is to be dealt to a Western Canadian team and the Isles are trying to accommodate his request. Sources denied Hamonic was unhappy over the club’s recent move to Brooklyn. Hamonic, his agent Kevin Epp and Isles GM Garth Snow have not yet commented on this. Friedman also cites sources claiming Snow wants an equal-level player in return and isn’t interested in draft picks or prospects.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Hamonic, a native of St. Malo, Manitoba, would prefer to be moved closer to home. The Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks are his preferred destinations, though his list could be expanded to include other Western clubs. Hamonic is in the third season of a seven-year, $27 million contract.
NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple reports Hamonic’s preference would be Winnipeg or another Western Canadian NHL city, but there’s no assurances Snow will be able to find the right fit or even make a deal this season. Staple observes the Jets have two appealing right-handed shots in Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba, but the former is a UFA next summer while the latter isn’t as developed as Hamonic. A source said Snow doesn’t intend to just give Hamonic away and wants an established top-four defenseman, not draft picks and prospects.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe reports the Jets could be the logical landing spot for Hamonic. While Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is believed in the market for a forward, Hamonic’s availability has to pique his interest. Wiebe notes the Jets have blueline depth to draw upon, but it remains to be seen if they’re willing to make a pitch or what their offer could be.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes the Oilers would be very interested in Hamonic. While Oilers GM Peter Chiarellia has a recent trade history with Snow, return could be an issue. The Oilers aren’t parting with Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse, plus they signed Andrej Sekera to a six-year deal this summer. That leaves Justin Schultz, but he’s currently sidelined with a bulging disc in his back. As for the other Western Canadian clubs, Matheson wonders if the Jets might offer up Tyler Myers, the Calgary Flames Dougie Hamilton or the Vancouver Canucks Chris Tanev for Hamonic. He also wondered if the Isles might ask for winger Jordan Eberle for Hamonic, though that wouldn’t address the latter’s absence from their blueline.
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis believes Hamonic would be a good fit with the Flames, suggesting they offer up Dennis Wideman or Kris Russell.
THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford doubts the Islanders will be interested in Canucks veteran defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who’s eligible for UFA status in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hamonic story dominated the NHL rumor mill last night. There’s lots to like about his game. He logs big minutes and is the Isles top shutdown blueliner. He can also chip in offensively, with 33 points in 71 games last season. His contract is an affordable $3.875 million per season, which fits in well long-term for all the aforementioned clubs, and at 25 he’s got lots of prime years ahead of him. The only downside is his injury history, which is attributable to his style of play. The problem, of course, is finding the right fit. I think the Isles will not just want a top-four defenseman in return, but also one with term on his contract.
The Jets have plenty of depth from their blueline to draw from. Unless the Isles get assurances from the Byfuglien camp that he’s willing to re-sign with them, I don’t see Big Buff being part of this. I also don’t believe the Jets will part with Trouba, who’s got lots of upside, or Myers, who they acquired last season from Buffalo. Tobias Enstrom is a possibility, but he’s 31 and his offensive numbers have declined in recent years.
The Oilers would love to land Hamonic, but it’s going to cost Klefbom or Nurse, and they won’t move those guys. I don’t see the Isles having interest in Sekera or Schultz. They’re are also loaded with scoring wingers, so adding Eberle or Nail Yakupov won’t fill the big gap Hamonic’s departure would leave on their defense.
I can’t see the Isles having interest in Wideman, who would have to agree to waive his no-movement clause. Russell’s a possibility, but he’s a UFA next summer. In my opinion, Russell isn’t an adequate replacement for Hamonic. I also don’t think the Islanders are keep to take on Hamilton’s big contract. As for the Canucks, unless they’re willing to give up Alex Edler, I don’t see a fit there.
On last night’s Face Off Hockey Show, we discussed the Minnesota Wild as an option. They’re deep in defensemen, but with promising Mike Reilly and Gustav Olofsson waiting in the wings, Hamonic probably isn’t a fit there. The Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes could use Hamonic. That could mean the Avs part with Tyson Barrie, while the Coyotes lack a comparable player to send back to the Isles.
To sum up, I don’t doubt the four Western Canadian teams are very interested in Hamonic. Considering he made his trade request before the start of the season, finding the right fit hasn’t been easy. The Islanders are trying to accommodate Hamonic, but they’re obviously not rushing into a deal here. It could take until next summer to get a deal done.