Canucks: Travis Hamonic open to playing outside of Western Canada next season

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 14: Travis Hamonic #27 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on January 14, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 14: Travis Hamonic #27 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on January 14, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks are officially under pressure when it comes to one of their blueliners.

During the first intermission of game two between the Montreal Canadiens and Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night, Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman dropped some interesting information about pending-UFA Travis Hamonic.

Hamonic initially joined the Canucks on a professional tryout (PTO) in early January before signing a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the team just under two weeks later. He missed a stretch of 18 games at the beginning of the season after suffering an upper-body injury against the Canadiens on January 20th, returning just over one month later.

He finished the year with three goals, seven assists and a minus three rating in 38 games.

Hamonic, who was initially drafted by the New York Islanders in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, played his first seven seasons in Long Island. During his sixth season, however, it was reported that Hamonic wanted a trade to Western Canada due to “family concerns”. 

Hamonic was 25 years old at the time of the report, and still had four full years remaining on his seven-year deal, with an annual cap hit of just $3.857 million over that span.

Hamonic was eventually dealt to the Calgary Flames during the 2017 offseason, where he played out the last three years of his deal. He recorded 11 goals and 21 assists over that span. Hamonic also chose to opt out of the league’s Return to Play plan for the 2019-20 season, once again citing family considerations as his main reason. He had also suffered a lower-body injury shortly before the NHL shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hamonic was a good fit during his time in Vancouver.

Not only was he able to stay on the West Coast to help take care of his family, but he also filled a noticeable void on the right-side of the blueline. When healthy, Hamonic played alongside sophomore Quinn Hughes, a position previously filled by Chris Tanev.

Hamonic is very similar to Tanev on the ice, with both blueliners known for their shot-blocking abilities, as well as their high-defensive IQ and shutdown style of play. Neither were known for their offensive prowess, but both averaged just over 20 minutes of ice time on a nightly basis during the 2019-20 season, and were staples on their respective team’s penalty killing units.

Hamonic needed a bit of adjustment time playing with Hughes, especially with the injury early on in the year, but the duo were able to finish strong at the end of the season.

Hamonic’s defensive reliability paired nicely with Hughes’ creativity and breakout speed, and he was able to improve upon some of his own fundamentals that he had previously struggled with in his career, particularly his high turnover rate and amount of high-danger scoring opportunities against. Hamonic was even able to produce more on the scoresheet, notching six of his 10 points in the final nine games of the season.

It will be interesting to see how the Canucks approach this situation.

Hamonic will be turning 31 this August, but has proven that he can still play as a strong, reliable, top-four defenceman in this league. He filled the void on the right side of the Canucks’ blueline really well, and, at the right dollar value and term, could still be a viable option for the team moving forward.

Of course, Hamonic will only be able to listen to other offers if he hits the free agency market, meaning that Vancouver still has time to strike a deal.

However, if Friedman’s report turns out to be true, then the Canucks won’t be able to use location to their advantage if contract negotiations carry over into August. There are a handful of teams that would not only be interested in Hamonic’s services, but would also likely put a bigger offer on the table to acquire those services, meaning that Canucks’ fans could very well see a repeat of the Tanev situation during this year’s offseason if they don’t get something done soon.

This year’s NHL Free Agency is set to open on Wednesday, July 28th at 12:00pm EST.

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