The Travis Hamonic Fallout

Could this be the last image of Travis Hamonic in an Islanders uniform?

Head coach Jack Capuano announced that the defenseman will miss the rest of the regular season with a lower-body injury. Hamonic left early in the first period after suffering the injury after a knee-on-knee hit with Columbus Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell in Thursday’s 4-3 Islanders win. He has 21 points in 72 games this season. New York is 24-6-6 when Hamonic leads the team in ice time.

“It’s going to keep him out for an extended period of time,” Capuano said. “We know he’s not going to play the remainder of the regular season, but hopefully we’ll have a better idea at some point moving forward.”

The Silver Lining

It’s hard to have a glass half-full mentality when it comes to this franchise. Capuano only mentioned “regular season”. If there was any structural damage to his knee, I doubt Capuano would have given any timetable for his return. Hamonic also was on the ice for the team photo at practice with media in attendance. If the injury was extremely serious, it’s unlikely the Isles brass would have him there.  The 25-year-old tore ligaments in his left knee last April against the Pittsburgh Penguins and missed the entire first-round series against the Washington Capitals. Thursday’s injury was to his right knee.

The NHL Playoffs begin on April 13th. The Isles could open up either on the 13th or 14th. Either way it would give Hamonic two weeks to recover. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on television, but it seems like this injury is a sprain or bruise.

The Replacements

Hamonic has been the team’s best defenseman this season. It was be difficult to fill the almost 24 minutes of ice time per game that he was playing. Sorry Isles fans, Brian Strait is staying in the lineup. Strait is one of the team’s penalty killers, another strength of Hamonic’s game. Capuano did announce that defenseman Marek Zidlicky will return Saturday against the Penguins. Zidlicky has been out since March 8th. His return certainly will not excite anyone. The 39-year-old is a defensive liability. Brought in during the offseason to replace Lubomir Visnovsky, Zidlicky has four goals and 15 points in 49 games. Defensemen like Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey will have their minutes increased. Hickey played 20:56 of ice time Thursday, a six-minute bump from his previous game. de Haan played a season-high 28:33 Thursday, an eight-minute bump from his previous game.

Ryan Pulock, who has been scratched for the last three games in favor of Strait, will get a look. It does little good to keep Pulock on the bench. The 2013 first-round pick would provide a boost to the power play and If Capuano decides to use more experienced guys like both Strait and Zidlicky, it would be imperative to send Pulock down to Bridgeport. The Sound Tigers are fighting for a spot in the AHL Playoffs.

Rookie Adam Pelech, who has been out since January 17th, has returned to practice and could be sent to Bridgeport on a conditioning stint. Pelech and Pulock’s combined NHL career consists of 17 games.

Hamonic requested a trade near to his Western Canadian home during the offseason.  The story broke in November and Hamonic has been a professional during the ordeal. General manager Garth Snow tried to accommodate his request but on his terms. Hamonic was named the Islanders nominee for the Masterton Trophy. The trophy is awarded annually to a player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey,” and is awarded by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

It is an almost a certainty that Hamonic will be traded during the offseason. Lets hope Islanders fans get to see the defenseman in the playoffs. Capuano said that Hamonic will be re-evaluted following the regular season.