Report: Islanders looking to deal Travis Hamonic to Western Canadian club

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports

Travis Hamonic is a very good hockey player, and by all accounts an excellent guy.

For family reasons, the New York Islanders are trying to trade Hamonic, a very good defenseman, to a Western Canadian club, according to an original report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman with TSN’s Darren Dreger filling in some crucial blanks. Before we proceed, let’s say that we hope for a favourable resolution for Hamonic and his family and wish them all the best, whatever the issue may be. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

While we won’t speculate on the situation itself, we will delve into what sort of player Hamonic is, and whether the Vancouver Canucks might be a team that makes sense as a trading partner for the Islanders. 

Let’s go over what we know. For personal family-related reasons Hamonic has asked the Islanders to facilitate a trade involving him, and in fact, asked the club for a trade prior to the start of the season, according to Dreger

Hamonic’s family issues are localized in Western Canada, he hails from Manitoba originally and played junior hockey in Moose Jaw and Brandon, so Dreger reports that he’d prefer to go to one of four teams: the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers, or the Vancouver Canucks. 

This is a really tough situation for the Islanders. The 25-year-old top-pair defenseman is a right-handed shooter with an extraordinarily team-friendly contract. He’s under team control at an affordable $3.857 million annual average value through the 2020 season. His salary is higher than his cap hit, so an acquiring team is acquiring the moderately less beneficial years of his deal, but it’s still a bargain price for a defender who can effectively log 22 minutes a night in all situations. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Islanders are an organization that could be in win now mode, but are generally budget conscious and are furthermore having some issues selling tickets in their new barn in Brooklyn, NY. Considering the way the Brooklyn-based team is straddling the present and the future, considering how hard it is to find top-pair quality right-handed defenseman and considering Hamonic’s team-friendly deal, this is a tough blow.

No one ever wants to move a player like Hamonic, and if the Islanders do so, they want a similar sort of player back – a young-ish player with top-of-the-roster capabilities signed long-term to a reasonable contract. Good luck.

From Friedman’s original report:

The problem with them trading Travis Hamonic,” one exec said, “is they want… Travis Hamonic.”

Several sources indicate Snow is not interested in a picks or prospects type of return. He’s looking for equal-level replacement.

That’s reason No. 1 this hasn’t happened yet. There aren’t a lot of these players available.

Friedman’s choice of words ‘equal-level replacement’ would imply that the Islanders are looking for a defenseman. Dreger’s choice of words is simply ‘equitable player’, which would give suitors a bit more wiggle room.

Hamonic has managed the best shot-attempt differential among Islanders defensemen this season and is leading all Islanders blue liners in ice time. For a big market club like the Canucks, Hamonic having a higher salary than cap hit is of no consequence, in fact, it means that he fits better into the club’s long-term salary structure. 

Theoretically speaking, Hamonic will also still be under contract, and still be a reasonable bet to be in his prime, by the time the Canucks’ hybrid-style rebuild has put the team back into contention mode.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

In Chris Tanev, the Canucks would seem to have a reasonably facsimile of Hamonic. Tanev is the better defensive player, probably by a decent margin, but Hamonic is the better offensive player. They’re both signed through 2020 and are within a million dollars in the total value remaining on their deals, though Hamonic has the lower cap hit over the life of their respective deals.

The problem with this is that a rational actor probably doesn’t deal Tanev for Hamonic straight up. Even if Tanev is slightly more expensive over the life of his deal, he’s very probably the better defensive player and that’s the main value that either defenseman provides. He’s the better defender by the shot-based metrics (although Hamonic’s results away from Andy MacDonald have generally been very good) and he’s definitely an elite penalty killer, which Hamonic is not. 

It’s difficult to see another piece on the Canucks roster that is even remotely analogous. The club doesn’t have a lot of players in that ‘high-end, 25-year-old signed long-term’ sort of range. No one does! The Canucks definitely don’t have any pieces like that up front, and on the back-end, we’re probably talking about Tanev and, yeah, no one else realistically. 

The prospect of trotting out a blue-line group constructed around a quartet of reasonably compensated defensemen in Hamonic, Tanev, Alex Edler and Ben Hutton for the next half decade is appealing. And Jim Benning and Garth Snow have conducted business before – when Vancouver sent Alexandre Mallet and a third-round pick to the Islanders for Andrey Pedan. Still, it’s tough to see how the Canucks have the pieces to help Hamonic be closer to his family while also helping Garth Snow and the Islanders get off of the mat.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Hopefully this works out for all involved. At first blush, the sort of deal the Islanders are hoping to make doesn’t really look like a fit for the Canucks though. 

  • Dirty30

    If it’s not Tanev, one would think Hutton may need to be a part of this if it were to work.

    My money is on the Oilers as they have a greater need and asset base from which to trade.

  • Dirty30

    When you are painting the top 4 picture, it makes me wonder if a deal could be formed around Hamhuis. True, NYI isn’t the most appealing team to waive a no-trade clause for, but if you paired Hamhuis & some thing with term or potential (prospect or draft pick), that would appeal to me as a GM. Snow could flip Hamhuis for something else later in the year and get the young D w upside, or just utilize him for this season and have the cap space and player with potential in the upcoming years.

  • Dirty30

    Wow would be an excellent fit unfortunately we don’t have a defence an to give back Tanev is our top dog. Unless we could make a package that would involve elder. I am sure Bennington will have some talks with snow. Exchanges of equal salaries etc will all have to be looked at in the silly cap era

  • Spiel

    Oilers. They will try to move Fayne, or Nikitin, or Ference, or…

    Jets may have the pieces. I don’t see Van getting this done, but it would be nice. Another top four defender would help.

  • What about franchise-cornerstone Brandon Sutter!?




    To folks saying Hamhuis, Hamhuis Higgins, etc:

    Not likely. Other GMs are not idiots. You don’t give up a young guy signed for years for a vet(s) on expiring contracts. The only way a players like Hamhuis and Higgins make sense is if you’re packaging an A-grade prospect who isn’t quite NHL ready – you have a guy to fill the roster space and help your team compete until the prospect is ready to step up. The Canucks don’t have many (any?) of those kinds of prospects.

  • Spiel

    Time for Trader Jim to show he is up to the job.

    His team is in desperate need of this type of defender and he has a plethora of young players he could send in a package.

  • Steampuck

    I wonder if a third partner, willing to part with “the future is now” pieces in exchange for Canuck draft picks/prospects for Hamonic to come this way? Colorado? Toronto?

    • Andy

      Toronto has Gardiner, Ottawa has Wiercoch, Colorado has Barrie.

      I’d first offer Edler, Cassels/Grenier/Gaunce for Hamonic (throw in a conditional first round and I’d request Barzal at that point too),

      If not, maybe dangling Hamhuis, Fedun/Pedan and a first for one of Barrie/Wiercoch/Gardiner and a second, then do a one for one trade…

  • Steampuck

    Maybe we can send Hamhuis to fill their immediate defensive need, packaged with a significant prospect like Virtanen.

    Recent top 10 pick and a top 4 D. What do the other teams have to offer?

  • Andy

    We are desperate for this kind of player. Too bad sbisa wouldn’t suffice. How about hamuis, baestchi, Higgins and our gifted (thank you torts) 2nd rounder. They get a solid top four defender for now
    a good two way vet for depth, an nhl ready prospect
    with upside and a future 2nd rounder for their troubles. We clear space in the forward ranks dump a bit of salary and utilize our torts gift. While adding a cornerstone defenseman.

  • Andy

    If Snow sticks on swapping for an equivalent defenceman then I don’t think this gets done. Vancouver has Tanev, which won’t happen. Calgary has Brodie, which won’t happen, or maybe Hamilton? Hard to see them giving up on Hamilton already even though he hasn’t been great there so far. Winnipeg has Myers. I haven’t seen enough of the Jets to know if that’s doable but the Jets blog seems to think it’s a good idea which is probably enough to say it won’t happen. Edmonton doesn’t have any defencemen.

    If Snow expands his parameters a bit the Canucks might do something with Hamhuis, or the Jets with Byfuglien. Hard to see either of these happening because of the difference in contract status but who knows what kind of package could be acceptable.

    If Snow will take a forward in return then I think the deal will be with Edmonton. Edmonton has a surplus of forwards and is probably willing to overpay to get an actual defenceman.

  • Andy

    I don’t know if the Canucks could get this done. So, I’d like to take a wild shot at this one

    Van: R. Strome

    NYI: Edler
    2nd round draft pick

    I can’t see Edler waiving the NTC but who knows. The Canucks aren’t going to contend anytime soon. The easier travel and less physical east may appeal to Edler.

  • Andy

    “He’s (Snow) looking for equal-level replacement.”

    So…why exactly should the Canucks (or any other team) give up equal value for Hamonic? How does that make them better?

    Unless Snow takes a haircut on the deal because he’s got the unhappy player, the Canucks are better off drafting and developing in-house.

  • Andy

    In situation like this of course any teams involved understand. Snow does not have to trade him. Some of us Canuck fans act like leaf fans and highly overvalue our players(assets) and/or think other gm’s are completely stupid. This situation will have to be a win/win not a bag of used pucks for your best defenseman scenario.

  • Andy

    Firstly, Winnipeg probably sends Myers to Brooklyn for Hamonic.

    Secondly, Vancouver’s options are to offer up Edler or Hamhuis, plus prospects/picks, and possibly take a bad contract back as well to make the numbers work. This could turn out in VAN’s favour, as we could seriously use a Grabovski (currently NYI’s worst dollar-value contract) right now.