Hamonic was first out of the line-up in Saturday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with what was termed a lower-body injury.
Hamonic, who earlier this season requested a trade for personal reasons, is a key piece of the New York blue line, despite taking a step back in offensive production in the season’s first half.
He set career-high marks last season with 28 assists and 33 points, as well as tying a career-high of five goals. This season, he has two goals and eight points in the 41 games.
Nonetheless, he’s been a key piece of the team’s defense and was expected to take on an even larger role with Johnny Boychuk ruled out for four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury.
The team was already feeling the squeeze on their depth. That’s quite clearly seen with how hard they had to lean on rookie Adam Pelech in a January 7 match against the Capitals. Just five games into his career, Pelech logged a career-high 22:21 of ice time. On Saturday, he logged 19:22. Prior to those two games, coach Jack Capuano had been playing him closer to 15 minutes a night.
Their blue line is going to be stretched even thinner now as they enter an important stretch of the season. They’re in third place in the Metropolitan Division, but just three points from dropping out of the playoff picture entirely. They’ve lost two straight and are 4-7-0 in their last 11 games.
The East is very tight in the middle of the pack. They may need to find some outside help if they start to slide or there’s any inkling that Hamonic’s injury could linger longer than expected.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.