12Travis Hamonic
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

FlamesNation player evaluation: Travis Hamonic

Travis Hamonic had a rough introduction to the Calgary Flames blueline in 2017-18. But he rebounded in 2018-19, establishing himself as a reliable presence on the back end.

2018-19 season summary

Hamonic had a strong season, particularly in that he avoided some of the wild swings between peaks and valleys that characterized his first campaign with the Flames – y’know, the one where he spent half the year in his own end.

Games played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% rel OZS% PDO
69 7 12 19 20:52 54.26 -0.33 55.05 0.997

Hamonic missed 13 games this past season: eight after breaking his jaw in a fight on the opening night of the season (in defense of rookie Dillon Dube), then a trio of games in January and February due to an unspecified lower body injury. He was a healthy scratch for a pair of games after the Flames clinched the conference and division late in the season.

In a departure from his prior role as TJ Brodie’s partner, Hamonic played the entirety of the season on the second pairing with young Noah Hanifin. Similar to how he was used with Brodie, his job was basically to help smooth out some of Hanifin’s defensive lapses. Hanifin’s game is still a tad uneven, but Hamonic did a credible job evening out his defensive game a bit.

Hamonic also played on the first penalty killing unit with Mark Giordano. Occasionally he was moved away from Hanifin mid-game by head coach Bill Peters, usually playing with Oliver Kylington or Juuso Valimaki in a move to shake up chemistry a bit.

Possession-wise Hamonic had the best Corsi For percentage of his career, beating his previous career best by almost three per cent. In terms of rates, he rated first or second in most shot generation metrics – shots, shot attempts, scoring chances and high-danger chances – but was a bit all over the place for the shot suppression metrics (ranking between third and fifth among regular defenders). Even with the noise relative to his teammates, he had the best suppression and generation rates of his entire career.

Compared to last season

As we noted a few weeks back when looking at some quirks in James Neal’s season, Hamonic came to Calgary from Brooklyn to kick off 2017-18 and had an across-the-board improvement in his underlying metrics – offensively and defensively. He just couldn’t find any chemistry with Brodie.

He seemed to really find a nice match with Hanifin, despite the youngster’s occasional defensive challenges, and that allowed that duo to spend less time in their own zone and contribute offensively to wins. Combined with Hamonic getting shots on net more frequently, the second pairing was a big contributor to the team’s regular season success.

What about next season?

Hamonic turns 29 years old in August and will be entering the final year of his current contract (with an AAV of $3,857,143. From a pure hockey perspective, he seems like a great fit for the team. He’s an effective right shot defender, and he’s arguably the only defender that can reliably play the physical style of game that teams need to have in the playoffs – Rasmus Andersson has this in his game, as does Alexander Yelesin, but neither has done it as consistently or well as Hamonic has.

That said, the 2021 Seattle Grinders expansion draft looms in two seasons and the team will have a lot of tough decisions to make on their blueline. For now, though, Hamonic seems like a natural fit on the back end and someone that can likely be relied upon for more of the same style of performance for the next season or two.

2018-19 player evaluations

#4 Rasmus Andersson | #5 Mark Giordano | #7 TJ Brodie | #8 Juuso Valimaki | #10 Derek Ryan | #11 Mikael Backlund | #13 Johnny Gaudreau | #18 James Neal | #19 Matthew Tkachuk | #21 Garnet Hathaway | #23 Sean Monahan

  • CowboyBob

    This guy is a warrior, plain and simple. While not a great skater he is a decent enough skater for today’s NHL. Unlike Brodie and some of the other lighter players on this team who are stick on stick players, Hamonic is a body on body checker, which is why he actually did something in the playoffs. I know few have mentioned how many goals he was on for against the Avs, I think that was because as the series went on he was played more against the top line, but more importantly, the Flames centres were so bad defensively at allowing Avs forwards to get to the top of the circle and cut into the net unchallenged. San Jose did not allow that happen in their series, they kept the Avs big line against the boards. That’s coaching, and not on Hamonic.

  • freethe flames

    Hamonic had a good bounce back year; a solid 2nd pairing defenceman when playing with the right partner. The question is will he be around after the trade deadline as this is the last year of his contract.

    • Jobu

      Jobu assumes hell still want to stay in the Canadian west once the contract is done, and may take a hometown discount to achieve that. It would be with either Winnipeg or Calgary, and given we have the negotiating rights, we’re likely to retain his services for an equivalent contract to what hes making now.

  • meat1

    Hamonic is one of my favourite Flames. He can play the game any way you want. I don’t know the inner workings of the dressing room, but I’d have a letter on his jersey long before Monahan and Backlund. I hope we can keep him beyond this season at a reasonable salary.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Anybody catch Buttons and Bows on QR77, the Voice of the Redneck last evening? He was of the firm opinion that Hamonic needed to be moved out, not Brodie. He argued that the speed of the game had blown by Hamonic such that he was the biggest liability the Flames had on defence. I normally do not agree with most of what Button says and this was no exception. Brodie has a higher trade value than Hamonic and Hamonic is one of the few Flames who plays with grit. I’ll take another year of Hamonic than another year of Brodie. After next season, I would not re-sign either of them, even to team-friendly contracts.

  • Joel Ottos Jock

    Hamonic was great this season. He passed my eye test. He complimented Hanifann quite well and the two could be very good moving forward. Hamonic is as rugged as we are going to get while still being able to move the puck and do the little things a warrior does. Block shots, fight monsters, and is an amazing off ice character with all the work he does with kids. This guy deserves a letter and should be resigned as soon as possible. Will slide nicely into the 3rd pairing in the next 2 to 3 years.

  • deantheraven

    Increased his goal total from last season by 600% (Career High!), points by almost double, spent less than half the time in the box, had his best plus-minus season ever, served as an example to the young Dmen (yeah, so did Gio, but we’re talking about Hammer here!), is a true warrior/teammate willing to sacrifice his body and face for his Team.
    But wow, that corsi!
    Seriously, this guy is 29 and has Gio as an example of how to sustain a career as a difference maker.
    Hope he re-signs.

  • The Flaming C

    One of our best defenceman. Should be resigned on about a 4-year deal. We have to find a way to make sure Seattle doesn’t pick him because Hamonic is the type of player you win championships with.

  • Franko J

    Initially didn’t like the trade. Especially what the Flames gave up to obtain him. I thought he was most of the time a liability in the defensive zone last year. This season was much better, but like all other Flames not named Smith, he had a very underwhelming playoffs and looked like the pace of the playoffs got the better of him. Depending where the team is come the trade deadline would provide a better understanding how the organization values him and sees where he fits in the team long term. For now, unless there is a trade that is going to blow things out of the water and he is part of, the conventional thinking is that he will be one of the returning veterans on the roster come October.