News of New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic requesting a trade to a Western Canadian NHL club is dominating the NHL rumor mill. A native of St. Malo, Man., Hamonic told reporters on Thursday a family matter is behind the request.
Islanders GM Garth Snow doesn't intend to just give Hamonic away, as it's believed he wants a comparable blueliner in return, not draft picks and prospects. Ken Campbell handicapped the 25-year-old's preferred destinations of the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks, suggesting the Oilers as the best fit.
Campbell's not the only one weighing in on where Hamonic could go. Newsday's Arthur Staple reports there's no guarantee Snow will find the right fit this season. While noting the Jets have two right-handed shots in Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba, Staple notes Byfuglien is a UFA next summer and Trouba isn't as developed a defenseman as Hamonic.
The Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe considers the Jets the logical landing spot for Hamonic. While indicating they're in the market for a forward, Wiebe speculates Hamonic's availability could spark their interest. While the Jets have blueline depth to draw upon for a trade offer, it remains to be seen what it might be.
Some observers suggest Tyler Myers as an option. Like Hamonic, he's a 25-year-old, top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. While the Jets acquired him late last season, swapping his $5.5-million annual cap hit for Hamonic's $3.8 million would free up cap room to put toward re-signing a key free agent. Snow, however, might balk at taking on a bigger salary.
Defensive depth is an ongoing issue for the Oilers. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes they'll be very interested in Hamonic, but making the right pitch could be tricky. He feels the Oilers would be reluctant to part with Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse, while Andrej Sekera was signed just last summer. Justin Schultz's back injury could hurt his trade value.
Matheson wonders if Snow would instead be interested in right wing Jordan Eberle. By all accounts, however, the Isles GM wants a comparable blueliner in return. If the Oilers aren't willing to part with Klefbom or Nurse, that deal probably won't happen.
Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun considers Hamonic a good fit on the Flames. He suggests offering up Dennis Wideman or Kris Russell, who've been fixtures in this season's trade rumor mill.
The 32-year-old Wideman, however, is several years older than Hamonic, carries a $5.25-million cap hit and a full no-movement clause. Russell is younger (28), more affordable ($2.6 million) and a superb shotblocker, but he lacks Hamonic's all-around skills.
As for the Canucks, Jason Botchford doubts Snow will be interested in pending UFA veteran Dan Hamhuis. Alex Edler's name has popped up, but he carries a no-trade clause.
Hamonic's list could be widened to include other Western Conference clubs. TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche are among those with interest in the Isles rearguard. ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun claims the Wild are among those to have contacted Snow about Hamonic.
Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, 25, is a restricted free agent next summer. His name has surfaced occasionally in the rumor mill. However, with promising blueliners Mike Reilly and Gustav Olofsson waiting in the wings, they could soon face a logjam on defense.
Like the Oilers, the Avalanche's blueline depth is an ongoing issue. Bleacher Report columnist and former Denver Post hockey scribe Adrian Dater believes they'd love to land Hamonic, but doubts they can meet the Islanders' asking price.
It's worth noting Hamonic made his trade request during the offseason. That he's still with the Islanders indicates the difficulty Snow faces trying to honor the blueliner's request. While there are teams with interest, finding the right fit in both return and salary is tricky.
To his credit, Hamonic isn't letting this affect his performance and he's willing to be patient. It could take until at least the trade deadline for the market to reach the point where Snow can find a favorable deal. Failing that, Snow could be forced to wait until the NHL Draft next June to fulfill Hamonic's request.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.