Vancouver Canucks: The Case for Travis Hamonic

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The Vancouver Canucks can make the Hamonic trade happen. And Chris Higgins holds the keys.

Let the Vancouver Canucks trade talks begin. The trade deadline is heating up early here, folks.

This past Wednesday, Travis Hamonic came out and expressed his desire to be traded to a Western Canadian team. That would include the Oilers, the Flames, the Jets, and of course, the Vancouver Canucks. The 25-year-old right-handed defenseman is a core piece of the New York Islanders, and although the Islanders will eventually have to pull the trigger on this deal, they will have all the reasons to call the price high on Hamonic.

The Vancouver Canucks would very appreciate Travis Hamonic in their top-4, perhaps even in their top-2. He is young, he is physical, he is a point-producer, and he is extremely cap-friendly. (Just about $3.8M per year.)

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  • Travis Hamonic had 28 assists and 33 points in 71 games last season, one he ended with a plus-15 rating. More impressive is that the 25-year-old had 213 hits. That is equivalent to 3 hits a game. In comparison, the highest hitting defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks last year was Luca Sbisa, who hit at a 2 hits-per-game pace.

    But as sources have it, the Islanders want to make a “hockey-trade”, one not about draft picks and prospects, but about real NHL-ers. They want a top-4 defenseman in return, possibly more. Islanders GM Garth Snow will not waste a defense core that has the Islanders 4th overall in the goals-against-per-game department.

    With that in mind, we can write off the Oilers. Edmonton is not likely to trade their top defensive youths led by Darnell Nurse. The rest of the defense would not entice the Islanders either. If you look at the Oiler’s top-6, there are virtually no trade-able parts.

    The Jets are the supposed front-runners. Names like Byfuglien, Myers, Trouba, and Enstrom seem like trade-able parts. This comes in, of course, as Byfuglien’s name is being linked to the Boston Bruins.

    However, the Vancouver Canucks have a legitimate case to make.

    Think Chris Higgins and Dan Hamhuis.

    Chris Higgins is an underrated Vancouver Canuck. His defensive play is formidable, and his Corsi rating has been that of a Canuck top-6 forward consistently. Higgins would be a serviceable 3rd-line winger for any NHL squad, and a fairly-priced one, too. At $2.5M, he is not a bad pickup.

    Then why do we link him to the Islanders? After all, Higgins has a limited no-trade clause.

    Do you think he wants to block a trade to his hometown NHL team?

    Chris Higgins is native of Smithtown, NY. Dubbed the “favourite son of the Long Island” by some, the left winger grew up watching the Islanders, and still has a soft spot for his hometown. A trade to the Islanders would land him where it all began for him – in Long Island. The addition of Higgins to the Islanders squad will significantly improve their bottom-6 add solidify its identity as a defensive dark-horse in the NHL.

    Nevertheless, to really match the Islander’s request for a top-4 defenseman, the Canucks will have to give up more than just Chris Higgins. Chris Tanev’s name has been kicked around a bit, as his contract, age, and role mirror that of Hamonic’s.

    Giving away Chris Tanev is the last thing the Vancouver Canucks want to do. Chris Tanev’s value is considerably more than just himself. Trading away Chris Tanev is also trading away a part of Alex Edler. Edler’s play is defined by Chris Tanev, and the Vancouver Canucks would not risk losing the current Edler by giving away Tanev to the Isles. That would be losing the entire top-pairing.

    However, Dan Hamhuis is an interesting name to kick around. The 32-year-old veteran is on a $4.5M contract, and would gain Unrestricted Free Agent rights at the end of this season. This year has been a good on for Hammer, and the Islanders might be intrigued by the top-4 defenseman. After all, Hamhuis was on the Canadian Olympic team while Hamonic was cut from Team Canada’s Sochi camp.

    One minor issue is that Hamhuis has a no trade clause. But so did Jason Garrison and Kevin Bieksa. Look where they are now. Not in Vancouver, thanks to Jim Benning.

    More from The Canuck Way

    If the trade works out, Hamhuis might simply have to move to Long Island with his buddy Chris Higgins. Remember how GM Mike Gillis acquired them both at the trade deadline leading up to the Stanley Cup Finals run? They might also end up moving out together.

    But the Vancouver Canucks would not be happy giving up a serviceable Higgins and Hamhuis straight up for a Travis Hamonic.

    The Islanders will have to complement Hamonic with an early-round draft pick for Higgins and Hamhuis. The Vancouver Canucks would not mind retaining some of Hamhuis’s salary to make that draft pick a 2nd rounder, or even sendind their 2nd or 3rd rounder for an ‘upgrade’ to a 1st rounder. Let me suggest:

    To NYI: Chris Higgins + Dan Hamhuis (33% salary retained by VAN) + 3rd Round Pick
    To VAN: Travis Hamonic + 1st Round Pick

    Would you pull the trigger on this deal?

    Trading away Hamhuis and Higgins is certainly hard to swallow, with the Canucks struggling so much right now. But Hamonic is worth the price. A 2nd pairing of Hamonic and Bartkowski would be a physical, dynamic duo to back up an Edler-Tanev top-pairing.

    The Vancouver Canucks cannot throw away this opportunity. It is time Jim Benning flashed his trading prowess and made some bold moves.

    Next: Alex Biega is the Next Alex Edler

    Travis Hamonic is everything the Vancouver Canucks want on their blueline. Youth, physicality, point production, and a cap-friendly contract. Let’s go get’em, Benning.