Isles Face Tough Decision in Trading Hamonic
It’s ‘official’ – Travis Hamonic is on the trade block.
Well, kind of.
The 25-year old defenceman is said to be looking for a move away from New York due to ‘family concerns’, with Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman reporting that the Islanders have been quietly looking to accommodate Hamonic’s request since the summer.
Finding a trading partner is proving difficult however, with the St. Malo, Manitoba native looking toward Western Canada while Islanders General Manager Garth Snow is set on landing an “equal-level replacement” for Hamonic, not picks or prospects, according to Friedman’s sources.
For the Islanders, finding an ‘equal replacement’ for Hamonic might take some doing.
Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 Draft (58th overall), Hamonic leads the Islanders in average time on ice (23:20) and has become one of their key shut down defencemen, whilst occasionally being deployed on the powerplay as well.
Currently playing on the club’s top pair with Nick Leddy, Hamonic carries a very friendly cap hit of $3.857m and is signed through to 2020 – when he’ll still be just 29!
Put simply, he might be one of the best value defencemen in the entire league.
At this point, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver are Hamonic’s preferred destinations, but TSN’s Darren Dreger has indicated other Western teams might enter the conversation.
But the point remains, this isn’t a deal the Islanders really want to make, and as such the organisation wants to ensure an appropriate return. To quote Friedman’s column:
“The problem with them trading Travis Hamonic,” one exec said, “is they want… Travis Hamonic.”
So where does the conversation go from here?
Naturally the Islanders, and their fans, want the best return possible for someone who is a key member of their line up.
Suggestions Calgary might ship Doug Hamilton already seem risible, but the idea Hamonic is somehow irreplaceable, and thus should garner some sort of ‘mega return’, is incorrect.
That said, the market for defencemen is tough, even in a ‘like for like’ swap and limiting the number of teams Snow can/will/is willing to negotiate with, whilst also looking for a defenceman in return, only slows the process further .
It’s not like Snow isn’t trying – but equally the former goaltender won’t be rushed in to a bad deal.
Theorising potential deals is easy – rationalising potential moves is much harder.
Would Winnipeg consider moving Dustin Byfuglien? An unrestricted free agent next summer, it seems unlikely the Jets would trade the big blue liner unless it became absolutely, 100% clear he would not re-sign in Manitoba – and thus Kevin Cheveldayoff might going looking for a more concrete solution.
But if that’s the case, Snow would need some kind of assurance Byfuglien would ‘re-up’ with the Islanders, to ensure they don’t part with a significant asset only to then lose his replacement as well.
Tyler Myers name has also been floated, with the 25-year old showing some improvement since moving to Manitoba last season, but it’s difficult to see what Calgary might be able to offer that fits with the Islanders needs.
That leaves Edmonton and Vancouver – two clubs who may actually have the appropriate goods to send back to Brooklyn.
Mark Fayne may be maligned by Oilers fans (unfairly one might add), but the former New Jersey Devils’ blue liner is a solid defensive presence, carries a not unreasonable $3.625m cap hit until 2018 and is only 28.
Snow may want Edmonton to offer something extra to sweeten the pot, but Fayne has the skill set and personal attributes to effectively fill the hole created by Hamonic’s departure, while Hamonic’s age, contract length and defensive ability are all notable plus points for an Edmonton side looking to climb back in to the playoff picture again.
Other possibilities mentioned in Edmonton include Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse – though it would make little sense for a young Oilers team to ship out two of its better young D men. Especially after signing Klefbom to a 7-year extension in September.
Vancouver’s Chris Tanev is the same age as Hamonic, signed through to 2020 and while he comes with a slightly higher cap hit ($4.45m per season) could be used as a ‘starting point’ for Canucks General Manager Jim Benning to build some kind of package around.
The other alternatives are that the Islanders widen the search, which would surely bring Colorado in to play if nothing else, or Snow looks at the possibility of a three way trade – though what combinations might work in this scenario are somewhat hard to fathom given the Islanders needs and Hamonic’s desire to head to Western Canada.
The only certainty here is that Snow has no intention of just letting the former Moose Jaw Warrior depart without ensuring the Islanders remain on course.
With Hamonic now ‘publicly available’, and the Islanders keen to remain a permanent post season fixture, the coming weeks are sure to involve plenty of speculation at the Barclays Center.