Canucks: Hamonic chooses not to opt out for 2021-22 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) /

It looks like the Vancouver Canucks won’t be losing a right-handed defenceman this season.

Well, maybe.

Right before the start of Friday’s preseason contest against the Flames, the Canucks PR Twitter account shared a statement from General Manager Jim Benning regarding the status of defenceman Travis Hamonic for the upcoming NHL campaign.

Hamonic has been away from the team since last Wednesday, when he didn’t report to the opening day of training camp. At the time, Benning stated that Hamonic was dealing with a “personal matter” and was expected to be with the team the following day, but it appears that the 31-year-old is still in Manitoba with his family.

It’s definitely been a rollercoaster ride for Hamonic since landing in Vancouver.

The former New York Islander initially landed a professional tryout with the Canucks during training camp back in January 2020 before eventually inking a one-year deal to stay with the organization. Hamonic faced some injury trouble at the beginning of the season, forcing him to miss 18 games between mid-January and end of February. He was able to bounce back in the latter half of the season at both even strength and on the penalty kill, while also finding chemistry with new blueline partner Quinn Hughes.

As a result, he was rewarded with a two-year, $6 million contract extension to remain with the team, but that status still remains very much in limbo given the current situation.

According to the league, players had until Friday, October 1st to officially opt out of the upcoming season due to personal and/or family concerns regarding COVID-19. If Hamonic has decided to opt out, the Canucks could’ve either pushed the entire contract to start during the 2022-23 season, or just burned the first year of the deal completely.

This isn’t the first time that Hamonic has made a difficult decision regarding his NHL career. Back in August 2020, Hamonic also decided to opt out of the bubble playoffs due to his daughter’s respiratory health concerns, which could very much (and understandably) be at play again this time around.

Quite frankly, there’s no point speculating about why Hamonic hasn’t joined the team yet given the personal nature of the matter. The decision is clearly one of great magnitude for Hamonic, especially when you take into account that he was reportedly even considering retirement earlier in the week.

Not to mention, it appears that everyone involved in the situation has been extremely tight-lipped over the past few weeks, and all signs are pointing towards that silence continuing on.

The most-pressing concern for Canucks fans at the moment would be Hamonic’s replacement if he does end up missing any regular season games. The team is set to go with Tyler Myers and Tucker Poolman, who signed a four-year, $10 million deal this past offseason, but will have some questions around which right-handed blueliner will suit up next to Hughes in the top-four group.

The Canucks could go with Luke Schenn, who served as Hughes’ first defensive partner back in 2018-19, or explore other options through trade or waivers. No matter how the situation unfolds, Hamonic’s mental health and personal circumstances should be the number one priority moving forward.

The Canucks have four preseason contests remaining before they kick off the regular season against the Edmonton Oilers on October 13th.

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What are your thoughts on the Hamonic situation? Let us know in the comments!