Trading Hamonic, It’s Complicated

The New York Islanders fan base was thrown a huge curve ball this past week. It became public that one of the Islanders most counted on blue liners, Travis Hamonic requested a trade before the start of the season due to personal reasons regarding a family issue. Hamonic is on record stating this has nothing to do with the Isles saying “I’ve been treated like gold ever since they drafted me”. Anyone who follows Hamonic knows what a stand up guy he is and the kind of character he has as a person. This was perfectly illustrated in ESPN’s E:60 piece on Hamonic called “In the Name of the Father”. While the Islanders organization is trying to accommodate Hamonic on his trade request to western Canada, finding a deal that works for everybody involved is going to be very difficult.

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A Trade That Works

The Islanders are thrilled to have a strong top four defenseman in Hamonic. Ideally the Islanders would love to see one of their other young defenseman such as Calvin de Haan, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield or Adam Pelech develop and become a consistent second pairing rear guard. Trading away one of their top three defenseman is not a move the Isles want to make. So how does a trade work where New York sends Hamonic to a western Canadian team and not weaken their team, specifically on defense? A team looking to add Hamonic in all liklihood want to do so because their defense needs to be strengthen. The Islanders cannot trade Hamonic to another team without getting a solid defenseman in return and unless they make another trade in addition to moving Hamonic.

An obvious choice would be to move Hamonic to his hometown team the Winnipeg Jets. Also there has been ample talk that Winnipeg would be willing to move defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. But the main reason behind Winnipeg’s willingness to move Byfuglien is because he is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Also Hamonic is five and a half years younger than Byfuglien (Hamonic turned 25 in August, while Byfuglien turns 31 in March). So while Byfuglien is a different kind of player than Hamonic, as the main parameters to a deal this could work for everybody involved in terms of talent for talent. However, when we get to the contract and salary cap issues that’s another story.


The Contract & Salary Cap Ramifications

As I have stated in the past the reason there are less and less trades in the NHL today is because not only do teams have to agree on talent but a player’s contract and their salary cap number are major considerations as well. This is one of the biggest obstacles facing Islanders general manager Garth Snow, in terms of getting fair value in return given Hamonic’s current long term deal. Hamonic is in the third year of a seven year deal where his annual cap hit is $3.857 million. Not only do the Islanders have Hamonic at a great cap number but they have him locked up for another four years after this season. When you take into account Hamonic’s talent, age, contract and annual cap number he is a player that is very difficult to trade. Finding a deal that makes sense for the Islanders both in the short and long term is going to be a very difficult task for Garth Snow.

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