Bring It On Home, Travis Hamonic

After five full seasons with the New York Islanders, Travis Hamonic is ready to come home. For their part, the Winnipeg Jets should be ready to receive the St. Malo native with open arms.

Normally, rumours of a player requesting a trade are either ignored or quickly quashed by all parties involved. What makes this situation interesting is that Hamonic and the Islanders have not only confirmed the request but have even gone so far as to name potential destinations under Hamonic’s request. Hamonic wants to return to western Canada, and his preferred destination is his home province of Manitoba.

Leaving aside the fact that a young, talented defenseman actually wants to come to Winnipeg, a city not known to be among NHLer’s preferred destinations, this is an opportunity the Jets shouldn’t pass up. Hamonic is the kind of player every team needs to win, a big, nasty defenseman who can skate and move the puck despite his defense-first tendencies. Of course Hamonic’s skill set means his price won’t be cheap even though he’s requested the trade.

Steep Price

As the above video shows, the Islanders are asking for a top defenseman in return for Travis Hamonic, and justifiably so. Hamonic is an Adam Foote type that could be extremely valuable to any team. For the Jets, however, the asking price is a big problem. The Islanders are seeking a top defenseman in return, but are not willing to take any player reaching the end of their contract, excluding Dustin Byfuglien from proceedings.

Daren Dreger speculated, quite rightly, that the Jets would be loath to part with former ninth overall pick Jacob Trouba. Trouba has had an up-and-down (mostly down) season, but the Jets are still high on his potential, and still believe he could be a Norris Trophy candidate someday. Hamonic is the steadier and more mature player at the moment, but his ceiling is likely nowhere near that of Trouba.

Tyler Myers, another name bandied about by the TSN panel, is also a player the Jets wouldn’t be happy to see go, though I would guess they are more likely to trade him than Trouba at this time. The Jets paid a heavy price to land Myers, but while he is the stronger offensive player, Hamonic is sturdier in his own zone and plays a more robust physical game. In short, his is the style the Jets wish to brand themselves with.

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The only top-four defender the Jets have left if you rule out those three is Toby Enstrom, and if you’re the New York Islanders that’s a genuinely uninspiring return for your best young defenseman. In this scenario, the Jets would have to give up a high draft pick (a second rounder if they’re lucky, but a first is more likely) and possibly one of their prized prospects too. In short, if the Jets want Travis Hamonic, they’re going to pay for it, and heavily so.

A Good Manitoba Boy

Travis Hamonic played his minor hockey in Manitoba, and most of his junior career close by in Moose Jaw. He ended that junior career back in Manitoba with the province’s only WHL team, the Brandon Wheat Kings. He’s Manitoba born and bred, and from a P.R. perspective alone would be a good addition to the Winnipeg Jets.

On a more practical level, Hamonic brings a physical, defensively responsible style the Jets are in desperate need of, as evidenced by their recent six-game losing streak. The thought of them making a deal to improve their chances at a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference has already been discussed on this site and elsewhere, and while the initial thought was that the Jets were after help up front, no team was ever hurt by getting stronger defensively.

Ultimately, the price for Hamonic is going to be high; some would say, given his low offensive totals, too high. In spite of this, the idea of a young player who truly wants to be in Winnipeg, whatever the reason, has to appeal to the Jets. When that player is a potential career top four defender, it’s all the sweeter.

And how cool would it be to hear the Jets’ P.A. announcer say, “Winnipeg Jet goal! Scored by number three, Travis Hamonic!”