The hockey world began buzzing yesterday, as news broke that New York Islanders defenseman – and Manitoba native – Travis Hamonic requested a trade prior to the season. And due to personal reasons, he’d like to head closer to home in Western Canada.
Right away, Flames fans were salivating at the prospect of their beloved hockey club further adding young talent to their defensive group. But is adding Travis Hamonic a realistic thing to hope for? Let us delve into what the Islanders might want and what the Flames would be willing to give up.
WHAT IS HAMONIC?
Travis Hamonic is a 25-year-old, right-handed defenseman. He’s under contract through the end of the 2019-20 season at a cap hit of $3.857 million. (For comparison’s sake, he’s about $800,000 cheaper than T.J. Brodie, who’s two months younger.)
Is Hamonic any good? In a word: yes.
For comparison’s sake, here’s T.J. Brodie in the same time-span:
Career-to-date, Hamonic has nearly identical possession stats (49.3% CorsiFor vs. Brodie’s 49.2%) through he’s gotten a lot more offensive zone-starts (49.2% versus Brodie’s 43.5%). Hamonic’s also played in about 60 more NHL games during the time-span, as he became an NHL regular a little bit faster and Hamonic’s offensive production is a little bit worse than Brodie’s.
If you said that Hamonic was a “meaner, right-handed T.J. Brodie with a better cap hit,” you wouldn’t be wrong but there are a few other differences in their games. But that phrasing basically captures the broad strokes of it.
And for the curious, he played junior hockey primarily with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, but played part of his final season in the Dub on the Brandon Wheat Kings with Flames winger Micheal Ferland.
WHAT THE FLAMES MIGHT OFFER
So presuming that the Flames want another good, young right-handed defender, what would they try to get Garth Snow excited about?
- Pros: Right-handed, good offensive player
- Cons: Not great defensively, super-expensive cap-wise
- The Flames would love to move Wideman, if only because it would create a spot for a younger blueliner and it would give them a great deal of cap flexibility going forward. But Wideman’s signed for another season at $5.25 million and it’s extremely unlikely that (a) the Islanders would eat that deal or (b) the Flames would eat enough salary to make the deal palatable.
- Pros: Veteran presence, locker room leader, willing to block shots
- Cons: Pending UFA, seems to be slowing down, offensive game isn’t amazing, defensive game seems to be eroding
- The good news is that Russell is relatively young, inexpensive and has a lot of intangibles that hockey people like. Unfortunately, as a pending UFA the Islanders may be worried about giving up too much for a guy that can walk on July 1. Additionally, they may be concerned about Russell’s struggles this season and expending a young asset on a guy that’s turning 29 soon.
- Pros: Veteran presence, established scoring threat, good complement to Islanders young core
- Cons: Pending UFA, hasn’t been amazing this season
- Many of the reasons the Islanders might not want Kris Russell also apply for Hudler. He had a great season last year, but he’s struggled at times this season and if I’m a GM, I’d be worried about spending an asset on Hudler, particularly if I don’t think he has a future in my organization. Using Hamonic on a rental player would be colossally dumb.
WHAT THE ISLES MIGHT ASK FOR
- Pros: Really good defenseman, young, relatively inexpensive
- Cons: Basically a left-handed, less physical Hamonic with a higher cap hit
- This is probably the closest thing you can see to a lateral trade for the Isles; they trade a 25-year-old good young defender for another one. Brodie’s more expensive and more of a pass-first guy.
- Pros: Young, good defensively, also right-handed
- Cons: Not amazingly defensively, kind-of expensive relative to Hamonic
- I really doubt the Flames would move a player they highly coveted and just went out of their way to acquire.
- Pros: Young, right-handed.
- Cons: Conditioning not there yet, not ready to play in the NHL right away
- Andersson would have to be part of a larger package, but he’s been strong in the OHL and the thought is he’ll be playing pro next season.
- Pros: Young, really talented skater and puck-handler
- Cons: Not amazing defensively yet, not ready to play in the NHL right away
- Like Andersson, Kylington is super young and super talented. But since the Isles reportedly want NHL bodies back for Hamonic, he’d need to be part of a larger package. He’s already playing regular minutes in North American pro… at 18.
- Pros: Young, really talented skater, big-game experience in NCAA
- Cons: Hasn’t played pro of any kind yet, not ready to play in the NHL right away
- Again, Hickey is internally highly-valued, but has played zero minutes of pro hockey and so would need to be part of a larger package.
FIRST AND/OR SECOND ROUND PICKS
- The Flames probably think they’ll be better next year, so would try to get the Islanders to take high-end picks next season, if possible. But Treliving traded away top 60 picks this year, so he might be hesitant to do any deals that remove organizational flexibility at the draft.
A POTENTIAL FLAMES OFFER
Kris Russell (or Dennis Wideman with retained salary), a prospect (one of Kylington, Andersson or Hickey) and 2017’s first round pick
A POTENTIAL ISLANDERS COUNTER
Russell, at least one prospect (of Kylington, Andersson, Hickey, Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk) and 2016’s first round pick (if not also a second or third rounder this year)
SUM IT UP
I really don’t think Hamonic will be a Calgary Flame, if only because the price to get him will be too high for management (and fans) to swallow.