CHICAGO — Within the span of two phone calls, the personal and professional lives of Travis Hamonic changed irrevocably.
The first came from New York Islanders executive Garth Snow, the only general manager he had ever known as a professional. Shortly thereafter, Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving reached out to welcome him to his new home and workplace.
"The calls came in one after another," Hamonic, a 26-year old right shot defenceman, told The Canadian Press in a phone interview after he was traded from the New York Islanders to the Calgary Flames during the second round of Saturday’s NHL Draft.
Calgary acquired Hamonic from New York for a 2018 first round pick, a 2018 second round pick and either a second round pick in 2019 or 2020. Along with Hamonic, the Islanders also sent a fourth round selection in 2019 or 2020.
New York has eight picks in the 2018 draft and another seven in the 2019 draft.
"This is a situation we felt we could capitalize on (by) bringing in some assets," Snow said. "It’s a good luxury for our organization to have."
For Snow, the decision was equal parts personally painful and professionally necessary. New York selected Hamonic with the 53rd pick in the 2008 draft, and he made his NHL debut during the 2010-11 season. Hamonic recorded 26 goals, 120 assists, 146 points and 452 penalty minutes in 444 regular season NHL games with the Islanders. Additionally, in 17 post-season games, Hamonic has a goal, three assists and 31 penalty minutes.
Essentially, the coaching staffs of Jack Capuano and Doug Weight used Hamonic as a shut down defenceman for New York. But for a team that left the draft with $9.397 million in salary cap space according to industry site CapFriendly.com, and has five defencemen under NHL contract — Calvin de Haan is a restricted free agent — plus prospect Ryan Pulock at AHL Bridgeport, Hamonic was deemed expendable.
"We have a lot of depth on our blue line," Snow said. "It’s going to give some of our younger D an opportunity to get some playing time (and) we’re really confident in that position moving forward."
But it may be off the ice where Hamonic’s loss is most noticeable, as he was a vocal leader in the dressing room and was active in the community. Hamonic was awarded the NHL’s Foundation Player Award Tuesday in Las Vegas for his D-Partner Program, which helps children who have lost a parent work through grief. Hamonic lost his father, Gerald, when he was just 10.
"He’s well deserving of winning in Vegas the other night," Snow said. "Just a first class player and first class person. These deals are always tough to do because there’s an emotional element."
Hamonic acknowledged the trade "kind of" caught him by surprise, even though his name had been publicly linked in trade speculation involving Colorado centre Matt Duchene. Hamonic declined to comment Tuesday when asked about the trade speculation, but repeatedly said he was "excited" Saturday.
"Pretty awesome organization," said Hamonic about the Flames. "I couldn’t be more excited.
"Young team but a good team. It’s really exciting. You want to surround yourself with great players (so) that’s a huge part of the excitement."
Still, he acknowledged sadness leaving Long Island and Islanders fans.
"I’ve been here seven years. My wife and I, we loved it and enjoyed our time on Long Island," Hamonic said, before calling the New York fanbase a "passionate group of people. Very supportive. So thank you."