Islanders Summer Report Card: Travis Hamonic

Apr 26, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

NASSAU VETERANS MEMORIAL COLISEUM OF LEARNING

 

Student Data

  • Enrolled: 2013
  • Age: 22
  • Undergraduate: 2008
  • Days Absent: 0 for 2013
  • Scholarship: Three-year ELC signed on May 27th, 2010; $875K; negotiating long-term deal
  • Achievements:  183 GP, 10 G, 50 A, 60 PTS, 2 +/- , [22:48 TOI/G 109:28 PROD--for 2013]

 

Class List and Grade History

  • Skating: B
  • Shooting: B-
  • Passing: B-
  • Defense: B
  • Leadership: B+

 

Professor’s Comments: Travis Hamonic is the future of New York Islanders hockey. He hasn’t been as ‘successful’ as John Tavares in consistently transcending promise into practice, talent into tallies onto score sheets, but that needn’t be a worry–for now.

If you’ve seen Islanders hockey these past three seasons, then you’ll somewhat agree that there’s nothing in the way of copious negatives pointing in Hamonic’s direction; no flubs that cannot be attributed to youth and inexperience, as opposed to lack of talent.

And if Tavares is the cornerstone for the scoring line, then double goes for Hamonic and all things defensive.

One needn’t look too far for evidence to substantiate the aforementioned, as Isles management earlier this month  allowed former “captain” Mark Streit to leave Long Island and potentially into the ‘arms’ of the Philadelphia Flyers, paving the way for Garth Snow to sign the 22-year old Hamonic to a substantial long-term deal.

Now we see a GM who envisions a defensive corps comprised of equal parts speed and size, with the exception of Lubomir Visnovskywho stays on to help bolster the Power Play.

With Travis you have a defenseman with two-and-a-half years experience at the NHL level. And although this truncated season marks his ‘poorest’ performance as a defenseman to date (3 G, 7 A, 10 PTS, -8 +/-) his presence on the ice is as important, if not more so, than former captain Mark Streit and numerous others inhabiting the position for reasons to follow below:

  • Work horse: Travis clocked in the third-highest total ice time per game this season, and with Streit’s departure, rest assured that Hammer may very well lead the team in the aforementioned department come season’s end next year. Consider also that Hamonic played all 48 games, missing perhaps a period here or there, playing through some severe pain (a badly bruised maybe even fractured ankle occurring in early February against the Penguins.)
  • Gritty: Plays an even tougher style than Kris Letang, but lacks the Penguins d-man’s vision on the ice. Both are built relatively the same, with skating abilities that are on par with one another. If and when Travis finds his rhythm and the Isles as a whole begin gelling more so as a club, Hamonic will contribute as much to his offensive brothers as Letang does at present.
  • Passionate: No one wears the proverbial heart on their sleeve as prominently and as proudly as Travis Hamonic. He has all the makings of a leader and he assuredly will be wearing an “A” on his jersey for years to come, and maybe even a “C” if he peaks at the levels that even astound Tavares fans in and around Isles country. But most importantly, Hamonic isn’t afraid of anyone and plays to win each and every day.

But why the ‘harsh’ grades, you ask? Travis cannot be satisfied with his performance, and neither am I.

One can safely assume that Hammer put the responsibility of leading the defense squarely upon his shoulder, and if you stop to think about it for a split second, who else but Hamonic, and to a lesser degree Andrew MacDonald, can create and successfully carry out this much needed role? Mark Streit certainly couldn’t and he was the Captain.

The new era of defensemen is upon Isles country and Travis will (nay, must) lead the way. His ability to play long shifts, play through pain, and play fearless pretty much sums up all necessary characteristics needed in your d-man. So let me go out on a limb here and say that Hammer’s built like Letang and has the ability to play like him, but he also has the makings of  Ryan Suter, as well.

But in my estimation, the above-mentioned is but a foregone conclusion. And I honestly feel that Hamonic’s talent transcends current markers in place, to the point which he will soon be the barometer by which other defensemen are measured.

Lastly, give credit to the Islanders training staff for keeping the defense relatively healthy, for aside from Brian Strait‘s ankle break, the Islanders remained in tact right up until game 5 of the postseason matchup against the Pens, where Andrew MacDonald succumbed to a broken hand. But without a proper training program, this group of young rag-tags would’ve taken themselves out of contention long before the April run.

Travis agrees:

Injuries are always an area of concern [...] They happen at fluke times and you never want to be injured, have your team injured or your best players injured. Our training staff did a really great job with the program we had last summer and heading into this summer, we have another great program.

Professor’s Recommendation: I recommend that Travis continue studying his tapes, especially those for the month of March that saw him accidentally deflect as slew of pucks into his own net, missing his marks due to miscues on the most inopportune moments, and an overall lackluster performance from a player imbued with energy, diligence, and loads of talent.

Chalk up this sub-par year for Hammer to the truncated season and a nagging injury, not to mention to simple inexperience. His grit was present when needed, even if his offensive vision wasn’t.

Hamonic must be doing something right, because he was chosen over Streit, and will now share leadership duties with Lubomir Visnovsky (the only Isles defenseman with significant NHL experience) and with such gestures comes grandiose expectations.

Moreover, when the young guns arrive from their respective minor league affiliates (Griffin Reinhart comes to mind) Hamonic will be the man to which the organization turns for guidance.

And it doesn’t take a Nostradamus to know that the Islanders will give Travis Hamonic a contract that bespeaks the interest and respect his talents engender.

 

Should the Islanders 'promote' Travis Hamonic to a long-term deal, or 'expel' him for a more veteran defenseman?

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-RD

Topics: New York Islanders, NHL Atlantic Division, NHL Eastern Conference, Travis Hamonic

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