Opinion

Off-Season Targets: Travis Hamonic

It seems like at this time last year there would be a “Travis Hamonic to the Oilers” article almost daily. Why wouldn’t there be, considering Hamonic had requested a trade west for family reasons and the Oilers were in desperate need for a top-four, right shot defender?

This summer, there are rumblings that Hamonic could once again be on the market, while the Oilers once again need a top-four right-shot defender. The need, after acquiring Adam Larsson, certainly is not a dire this time around, but the addition would certainly help the Oilers.

A year after shipping Taylor Hall out for defensive help, could Peter Chiarelli ship another familiar name out for the defender everyone thought was Edmonton bound one summer ago?

Why Is He Out There:

We have no sure way of saying whether the Islanders will move Hamonic, but it is certainly a possibility after a tough season for everyone in Brooklyn. The team took a huge step back, while Hamonic himself had a down year. He wasn’t bad by any means, but he wasn’t his usual self and it contributed to New York’s tumble down the standings.

The biggest reason he could be on the market? New York badly needs to make John Tavares happy, and adding a winger who can play with him and score goals could go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. The Oilers have a player with past history with Tavares and who can score goals in Jordan Eberle.

The Isles also have young defenders Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield and Ryan Pulock pushing for NHL time.

What Does He Do Well: 

He’s not going to ever score you 40 points, but Hamonic is a pretty well rounded defender who does a lot of things well. He’s very strong defensively and is a physical, bruising defender. He reads the play quite well and is good at breaking up the cycle in his own zone.

In terms of coverage, Hamonic is very good in this area as well, as he rarely loses his man and does a good job of preventing quality chances against. He’s an able puck mover as well, with an ability to turn the play from his own zone to the attacking forwards.

Lastly, he’s got a pretty good shot from the point and has traditionally logged big minutes for every team he has played for. He’s a very strong shutdown defender who is capable enough offensively and can move the puck in the right direction.

Where Will He Play/Where Should He Play:

Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom formed a very strong duo last season and I expect that the two Swedish defenders will be together again this fall. They absolutely should be together too, as I thought they were far and away Edmonton’s best defensive pairing.

That means Hamonic would slide onto the second pairing on the right side and would play with Andrej Sekera normally. This coming season, however, that won’t be possible until at least November, so expect him to line up with either Kris Russell or Darnell Nurse on the second pairing.

Incidentally, Hamonic is perfectly suited for the second pairing, right side. In fact, he could play on the top pair if that need existed still.

What Will He Cost:

I mentioned above that the Islanders will be looking to get John Tavares a winger, and Jordan Eberle fits the bill. Eberle and Tavares created magic together at the World Juniors back in the day, and Eberle is known for putting the puck into the net. He could be the trigger man that Tavares has been lacking ever since he entered the NHL.

Would a one-for-one swap get it done? I’m not so sure, but both players are coming off bad seasons so it is possible.

Closing Argument:

The Oilers defense is much better than it was at this time last year. That said, this group needed more help and that was before Andrej Sekera was injured. I think it is absolutely imperative now that Peter Chiarelli add another veteran defender, even if he does sign Kris Russell to an extension.

Hamonic, a young and affordable right-shot defender, is a perfect fit for this hockey club right now. He, Klefbom, Larsson, Nurse and Matt Benning could form a dynamic defensive group for the next five to ten years behind the McDavid/Draisaitl led offense.

If the Oilers have a chance to grab Hamonic this off-season, they really shouldn’t think twice about it.

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