As we all know by now, Travis Hamonic approached the Islanders front office with a trade request before training camp even started. Due to a personal situation, he desires to be closer to his family in Winnipeg, and the Islanders have been trying to accommodate that wish.
Beyond the fact that someone leaked this information, likely Travis’ agent in order to push the Isles into a trade according to most rumors, I don’t really have a problem with Travis wanting to be closer to his family, or the Islanders trying to grant that wish. I spend a lot of my time traveling for my job and my wife and I currently live across the country from our families, so I know that isn’t always easy.
No, the problem I have is with the Islanders choices going back to training camp and so far this season.
The Islanders do not have the deepest corp of defensemen in the league. I think we can agree on that. With Thomas Hickey currently injured again, they’ve been running Brian Strait and Marek Zidlicky out there every night. That could be better. They cannot afford to lose Hamonic, which is why getting a trade done is likely going to be a while. They Islanders need equal value on defense, and where are they going to get that, and why would another team break up their defense pairings just to swap equal parts?
This is why I think the Isles could be more successful in getting equal value for Hamonic if they could trade him for a forward, but in order to do that, the Islanders need to have someone ready to step in to the lineup so that we aren’t stuck with Strait and Zidlicky for the entire season. When Hickey was unavailable to start the season, and Ryan Pulock was with the club, the Isles could have had him play a couple of games to see if he was ready, but they didn’t. He was sent back to Bridgeport without making a single appearance when Hickey came back. Four games later, when Hickey was injured again, Adam Pelech got the call. In that time, he’s played in two games, again not exactly a good sample size to see what he has to offer, and those games were 9 days apart.
The irksome thing to me is that Garth Snow and Jack Capuano knew in September that Travis wanted out. They’ve had myriad opportunities to play some of these guys and haven’t. I could guess that maybe that means what they have seen isn’t good enough to warrant them being in the lineup at all, which may be evidence of a larger problem with being able to develop young players, but that’s a subject for another post. Or we can guess that maybe the Isles thought this would never get out to the public, but that didn’t work out so well and still doesn’t explain the lack of playing time for younger guys.
So now they’re stuck. They need to trade Travis before this becomes a problem, and they also need a second pair defenseman in exchange for their current one. They may wind up having to deal Hamonic’s cap-friendly, long term contract for a pending free agent in order to accomplish that, and that would not be a good thing. If it comes down to that at the end of this season we may all be wishing there had been a trade for a forward instead.
What realistic trade scenario would you like to see Isles fans?