The New York Islanders have become one of the hottest teams in the league, winning eight of their last 13. And without Travis Hamonic in the lineup. Looking at what “Hammer” brings to the table, the Isles are better off without him.
In their last seven games, the New York Islanders have allowed five or more goals against on four separate occasions. Including that embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs last Tuesday.
What’s going on? Is the blueline broken? Is it missing something that could help it stop bleeding goals? Would getting Travis Hamonic back make things better?
The answers to these questions are of course: (1) bad team effort, (2) no, (3) a complete team effort with off-the-puck-support, (4) and absolutely not. Here’s why.
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What Travis Brings, Statistically
The issue we’re trying to solve here is how to shed some goals against. So, how does Hamonic, and his 35 games this season fair in that metric?
This season, Hamonic is second last amongst the team’s defensemen in GA/60 with a 3.00 rating. And is dead last in terms of goals for percentage at 44.0%. Which is just another, fancier way of saying that Hamonic is on the ice for more goals against (3.00) than goals for (2.10). Something his -14 +/- rating on the season corroborates.
Just looking at that alone shows that Hamonic isn’t necessarily the answer when it comes to preventing goals. Which is what we’re trying to limit here.
So, what about the context? What about the fact that Hamonic played his 35 games this season with a leaky Jaroslav Halak. Surely that could contribute to Hamonic low numbers?
Amongst Islanders defencemen, from the period of October 13th to December 30th, when Halak was waived, Hamonic has the second lowest SV% with a 90.57. Behind him is only Adam Pelech (87.72). Over that same period, Hamonic also comes in last in terms of GA/60 with a 3.32. (numbers for this section provided by Corsica.Hockey).
Even with a porous Jaroslav Halak, Hamonic was one of the lowest performers defensively. So why bring him back.
Intangibles Just Aren’t Enough
Once the stats show that his contributions might not warrant immediately putting him back on the team the argument jumps to what Travis brings to the team. His intangibles.
It’s undeniable. Travis is a fantastic locker room presence and a great teammate. He battles hard and is generally the first one to stick up for his team.
If that’s the Travis Hamonic net gain, I’d pass. That’s just not enough for me to justify taking someone out of the lineup. What he brings to the table is important, but it’s being filled by other throughout the lineup.
Hamonic is a good team-first guy, the type of guys you like having around. But when he isn’t part of the solution, it’s time to put the team first and try to get something for him. With his injury issues that might be difficult, but it’s worth a shot.