The Vancouver Canucks might be without another defenceman for the start of the regular season.
During “The Donnie and Dhali Show” on Monday morning, insider Rick Dhaliwal reported that blueliner Travis Hamonic might be hanging up the skates and stepping away from the game.
Not much light has been shed on the specifics of Hamonic’s current situation to this date, aside from the fact that he’s dealing with a “personal family matter”, which was shared by General Manager Jim Benning on Thursday.
Hamonic was expected to arrive at training camp on Friday, but is reportedly still in Manitoba.
Dhaliwal also mentioned that Hamonic is still considering all of his other options, including opting out for the upcoming campaign only, or even playing with the team for the full 82-game season.
No matter the final decision, it’s definitely been a rollercoaster ride for Hamonic since coming to Vancouver.
The 31-year-old Manitoba native first joined the organization on a professional tryout back in January 2021, a few days after the Canucks kicked off training camp for the shortened pandemic season. Hamonic was officially added to the roster just one week later, signing a one-year, $1.25 million deal, with the hopes that he’d be able to replace Chris Tanev as the defensively-minded, shutdown partner for Quinn Hughes on the second-line pairing.
Things didn’t start off exactly as planned for the former New York Islander, who was sidelined with an injury after just five contests. Hamonic returned to the lineup near the end of February, but still needed time to establish chemistry with his new blueline partner and teammates. He looked much more comfortable with Hughes by the end of the year, and even started contributing to the scoresheet, notching three goals and three assists in the last 10 games.
As a result, Hamonic was rewarded with a two-year contract extension this past summer. The new deal holds a $3 million AAV, and also includes a modified NTC in the first year. Of course, the financial details might not matter at all depending on Hamonic’s final decision.
The situation was also discussed by Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on their most recent episode of the newly-named “32 Thoughts” podcast. Friedman didn’t go as far as to say that Hamonic might retire all together, but he did elude to the option of missing the upcoming season.
If Hamonic were to decide to opt out next year, he would need to notify the Canucks organization by no later than Friday, October 1st.
There’s definitely a lot to unpack when it comes to Hamonic’s future in Vancouver. If he does decide to step away from the game, the Canucks would likely be left with Tyler Myers, Tucker Poolman and Luke Schenn on the right side of the blueline come the season opener on October 13th.
Hamonic’s absence would also free up $3 million in cap space for General Manager Jim Benning. The team could use the money to explore another low-cost right-handed depth defenceman, whether it be through free agency or waivers, if they don’t feel that the combination of Myers, Poolman and Schenn is strong enough in order for the team to contend.
The Canucks are also without right-handed blueliner Brady Keeper, who broke his leg during training camp on Saturday.
More importantly, given the current timeline, Benning could use the additional cap space in the ongoing contract negotiation discussions for Hughes and fellow RFA star Elias Pettersson. Neither player has been able to participate in any team activities over the past week, and have already missed one preseason game as a result.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Hamonic has made a difficult decision like this. Right before the NHL was set to return in August 2020, Hamonic decided to opt out of the bubble playoffs due to his daughter’s health concerns, and it would be completely valid if his upcoming decision is based on the same factor.
The Canucks are scheduled to play their next preseason game on Monday night against the Calgary Flames at the Abbotsford Centre. Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST.
What are your thoughts on the Hamonic situation? Let us know in the comments below!