Offseason Targets: Travis Hamonic

Hamonic Flames
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Back during the 2015-16 season, New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic requested a trade out of New York and to Western Canada. Hamonic had a family health issue, and wanted to be close to home. Naturally, the defense needy Edmonton Oilers were among the teams rumored to be in on Hamonic.

Hamonic rescinded his trade request after the 2015-16 season, thanks to his situation stabilizing. However, Hamonic eventually got his wish at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He was traded to Alberta, but ended up with the Calgary Flames and not the Edmonton Oilers.

Hamonic will hit the free agent market in just a few weeks, and could be an option for an Oilers team looking to change things up on the blueline.

Why Is He Out There?:

The Flames paid a heavy price at the 2017 Draft for Hamonic. They sent the Islanders a 2018 first and two second round picks. To add insult to injury, the 2018 first was used on Noah Dobson and was a top-15 pick after the Flames failed to make the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Hamonic has been in and out of the lineup each of the last two seasons, and opted out of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs due to family concerns. Without Hamonic in their lineup, the Flames have managed. They have Mark Giordano, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson and Jusso Valimaki under contract for the 2020-21 season. The expectation is that Oliver Kylington will be re-signed as well, while veterans Michael Stone and Derek Forbort could be options as cheap depth pieces.

The Flames also have shown an interest in Arizona Coyotes’ defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, indicating they could be aiming higher than Hamonic on defense this October.

What Does He Do Well?:

During his best years, Hamonic was a strong and steady shutdown defender who played a physical brand of hockey and who could be trusted with 20 minutes a night. He was never a possession darling, so to speak, but did keep the puck moving in the right direction more often than not.

Hamonic also could move the puck a little bit, an underrated aspect of his game when with the Islanders and early on with the Flames. His big point shot also allowed him to create some offense from the point, but his goal numbers never truly spiked.

This past season, Hamonic averaged 21:12 per game in 50 appearances, scoring three goals and adding nine assists for 12 points. It was the lowest offensive output since 2017-18, when Hamonic managed just eleven points. Since joining the Flames, his offensive numbers have dropped off a bit.

Hamonic posted a 48.9% Corsi For at even strength, -2.4 relative to his teammates. It was his worst season by the metric since 2016-17, when he was absolutely caved as a member of the Islanders (43%). He posted a Fenwick For of 47.6%, also negative relative to his teammates (-3.0).

Of course, stats like Corsi and Fenwick are valuable but don’t tell the whole story. That is especially so with a guy like Hamonic, who started 54.4% of his shifts in the defensive zone. He’s a shutdown defender, and his job is to limit the other team’s chances.

(All numbers via hockey-reference)

Here is a look at Hamonic’s scouting report via The Sports Forecaster.

Has both offensive ability and physical toughness. Also owns a big point shot. Is capable of logging big (and important) minutes. Can be used in a shutdown role. Will at times take bad penalties, so he could stand to become a bit more disciplined. Must also work on improving his shot accuracy and overall decision-making process.

Where Should He Play / Where Will He Play?:

Hamonic is 30 years-old now and has played 637 games in the NHL. It’s probably safe to assume that his best hockey is behind him. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a valuable piece, however. Hamonic should be considered a low-end top-four option, but a strong third pairing option for any team that signs him in October.

In Edmonton, Hamonic doesn’t really fit unless someone else heads out of town. That someone could very well be Adam Larsson. If the Oilers move the shutdown defenseman for a forward, Hamonic would be a logical replacement in the top-four.

What Will He Cost?:

Hamonic’s last contract was signed on July 5th, 2013. The seven-year extension carried an AAV of $3,857,143, a total of $27 million. The veteran is simply not in line for another payday like that.

Hamonic’s recent injury history will play a factor in the contract he gets, as will his declining numbers. If he wants to remain near his family in Western Canada, an understandable desire, his market will also be considerably smaller.

A two-year deal around $2,000,000 per season could be what the veteran gets in a flat-cap world.

Closing Argument:

The Oilers loved Hamonic when he was available a few seasons ago, but were outbid by their bitter rivals to the South. Could they revisit a former target now that he is a free agent? It’s possible, but it would require other things to happen.

I put Hamonic on this list because if Larsson is moved for a forward, the Oilers will want a veteran defenseman to replace those minutes. Hamonic makes a lot of sense for said role.

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