It’s not every day a young, top-pairing defenceman hits the trade block.
Toss in the fact that he’s a right shot who would prefer a move to Western Canada (home to a couple of itchy GMs), is tied to a good-value contract for four more years, and is available more than three months out from the NHL’s 2016 trade deadline, and New York Islanders blueliner Travis Hamonic has stirred the perfect storm.
As Elliotte Friedman reported Wednesday, Isles GM Garth Snow will try to accommodate Hamonic’s request to fly west.
So, which competing clubs make suitable trade partners here?
Stop the presses. An NHL player actually wants to go to Winnipeg over every other city. A native of St. Malo, Man., Hamonic desires a move home for personal reasons. Dustin Byfuglien is set to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but Big Buff is a unique talent. Unless he has made it clear to management that he won’t re-sign, the Jets might be wise to look at Tyler Myers. Myers is more expensive than Hamonic, but position-wise the fit is there — and Snow would prefer to deal D for D. Both are 25-year-old righties who can log big minutes. And swapping Myers for Hamonic could save the Jets a bit of cap space as they try to strike new contracts for Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Adam Pardy, Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba.
It is well-known that Flames GM Brad Treliving has been punishing the phones after his club’s underwhelming start. Like the Jets, the Flames are flush with key players on expiring deals and it’s unlikely they can keep them all in the fold. Right shot Dennis Wideman ($5.25 million cap hit) is reportedly available, and 28-year-old shot-block king Kris Russell is undervalued at $2.6 million. Russell will be due a raise come July 1 and is a left shot, but he could be packaged with a pick or prospect.
Hamonic is just about exactly the type of player the defensively thin Oilers need, and his development matches nicely with all those twentysomething forwards in Edmonton. Perhaps Edmonton’s recent struggles could nudge GM Peter Chiarelli to shake things up. How about 28-year-old righty Mark Fayne plus a pick or prospect? Or maybe Snow could be tempted to shift from his D-for-D desires and consider a package that includes Nail Yakupov, Leon Draisaitl or Jordan Eberle. If there’s a multi-player blockbuster that can be dreamed up, it’s here.
It’s evident the Canucks are looking to get younger. Possibly the Islanders — who are more prepped to make a serious playoff run than Vancouver — could be tempted by a solid veteran defenceman like Dan Hamhuis ($4.25 million cap hit and a UFA next summer) or Alex Edler. Edler, a $5-million cap hit, has plenty of term left on his deal, and he would have to waive his no-trade clause to make this long-shot deal happen.
Geographically, the nearest NHL locale to Hamonic’s home other than the ‘Peg is Minnesota — a six-hour drive south. The Wild are loaded with players in their pre-prime set to become restricted free agents. Mathew Dumba, 21, has yet to hit his ceiling and is a right shot. Another righty, 25-year-old Jared Spurgeon, will be looking for a raise from his current $2.66-million hit this summer. Spurgeon was drafted by the Islanders back in 2008. Full circle?
Friedman also reported that multiple teams have been eyeing Colorado defenceman Tyson Barrie, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. The 24-year-old righty is a great comparable for Hamonic. If Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy sense that Barrie isn’t long for Denver, and Hamonic is fine with a Central Time Zone commute that would shave three hours off his current flight home, this could be a match.