Huge If True: Where exactly is Travis Hamonic going?

Huge If True: Where exactly is Travis Hamonic going?

[Breaking down the plausibility of the week's biggest rumor.] 

The Rumor

There's no doubt that all of this is real.

Unlike most NHL rumors, this started last week with a very concrete, “Travis Hamonic has asked for a trade” from Elliotte Friedman. He asked for it over the summer, and he asked for it for family-related reasons. These were all presented — rightly — as the indisputable facts of the situation.

Within a day, Hamonic himself confirmed pretty much all details.

So basically, Hamonic has played all season knowing he doesn't want to be with the organization, and he's done pretty well for himself. He leads the team in TOI, is a possession monster (53.1 percent against top competition, and everyone else is 47.7 percent when he's off the ice), and so on. If nothing else, he's ensuring that the Islanders get absolute max value for him, and he's 25 years old.

What we have here, then, is a stud young player who's playing the best hockey of his life, and is cost-controlled at less than $3.86 million through 2020. That's four seasons after this one. He won't even be 30 when the deal expires.

That he wants out is gutting to the Islanders, but you certainly understand the motivation, especially if you know Hamonic's backstory.

But unlike a lot of rumors we know a whole hell of a lot about the ins and outs of this particular rumor: Half the who, half the where, and a lot about the return as well.

Who's Going Where?

We should be careful here, though, to note the words of Bob McKenzie earlier this week, as he notes that a trade might not have happened yet not because there aren't suitors lined up — there are plenty of suitors, obviously — but because Garth Snow is hoping Hamonic changes his mind. But the fact that this is all out in the open now, and Hamonic told all his teammates about it likely speeds up the process.

So again, we know where Hamonic would be headed: Western Canada. There are only four teams there: Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. And Vancouver isn't interested, so now you're down to three teams really quickly.

As for the chance he'd be traded to one of the other 25 teams in the league, well, Damien Cox said both Detroit and LA called to ask if they could get in on this and were told to take a hike pretty flatly. Anaheim apparently wants in, and is basically beating down Snow's door about it, but as Cox notes, it's about 1,500 miles from Winnipeg to Anaheim, and only about 1,300 from Winnipeg to Brooklyn. Don't see where that makes sense.

So it's the Flames, Oilers, and Jets who are in on this. “Maybe Minnesota,” says Cox, but who knows on that? Mike Russo says the Wild haven't even been given a price point for the player, nor have they talked to Hamonic's agent about how amenable he'd be to playing 400 miles from home, even if it's not in Canada.

And that issue about the agent is an important one. Pierre LeBrun says Hamonic's representation can now talk to teams about playing there, effectively making this something of a free agent situation. He noted the Avs are kicking the tires too, but last I checked Denver isn't in Canada, or even all that close to the border. However, Darren Dreger notes that if something can't get done in Western Canada, other teams in the West might be reasonable destinations as well.

But let's focus here on the three Western Canadian teams right now.

Cox says Calgary won't give up TJ Brodie for Hamonic, which seems wise, and that the Islanders for some reason wouldn't want Dougie Hamilton coming back (maybe the money and term?). Edmonton doesn't want to give up Darnell Nurse, and might therefore be more interested in packaging Justin Schultz and Jordan Eberle. As for the Jets, Snow wants Jacob Trouba. However, Bob McKenzie says that right now, there are “too many moving parts” for the Jets to get heavily invested in the bidding.

Minnesota, meanwhile, might be willing to part with Jonas Brodin, who isn't playing well away from Ryan Suter but still has name recognition and so on.

Friedman also floated the idea that Calgary and Edmonton couldn't make a deal without getting a third team involved. That might be where the Avs come in or something, but that effectively opens this rumor up to 27 more teams besides Calgary/Edmonton/Brooklyn. Fun fun fun.

The Implications

Also per Friedman, Hamonic apparently says he's willing to play the full season, so this trade is anything but imminent. That's despite the fact that Cox said the trade could happen Monday or Tuesday (but obviously didn't or we would have heard about it by now).

This whole issue becoming public now, right around U.S. Thanksgiving — the traditional opening bell for the NHL's trading season — shouldn't shock anyone at all, especially if GMs knew about Hamonic's situation for months and no one said anything. To McKenzie's earlier point about potentially moving up the timeline, this very much feels like a GM trying to shake something loose.

But if Calgary and Edmonton need help to get the deal done, there's almost no use speculating as to the implications of such a trade because there are just so many moving parts to consider there. Who else could get involved? Almost literally anyone. Speculate away.

But as to Winnipeg, they're certainly the most viable trade partner here, and not just because Hamonic is from there.

That's because of the whole Dustin Byfuglien/Andrew Ladd thing. Do they have the money to sign both of them? Who knows! Do they have the guts to trade one of them if negotiations sour? Also who knows!

Not that the Islanders want Byfuglien or Ladd. They want a top-four defenseman who's probably going to be cheap and amenable to signing long-term. But last week the Jets went back to reopen negotiations with Byfuglien and Friedman doesn't see that as any sort of coincidence. If they can make that work, then the Hamonic deal becomes very doable.

You just can't risk trading Trouba and losing Byfuglien to UFA status, because then you're losing a very good young defenseman and a great older one, and getting a great mid-20s defenseman back. If you can figure out a way to keep Byfuglien and get Hamonic back, you do that in a second.

It's also worth noting that the Jets have a pretty impressive prospect pool, more so than Calgary or Edmonton, so if the pot needs to be sweetened in some way, that's an easy way to do it without hurting the NHL roster (apart from losing Trouba, which would still suck).

This Is So Huge, If True: Is It True?

On a B.S. detector scale of 1-5, with one being the most reasonable and 5 being the least:

This trade is going to happen at some point. That much is clear. To that end, you can only give this rumor:


The issue, though, is it's not guaranteed to happen this week, this month, or even this season. And that's where things get a little tricky when it comes to saying, “This is the thing that's going to happen.” It's hard not to be sucked in by these clearly real trade rumors, but as always, one ought not buy into anything too heavily right this second.

Travis Hamonic is going to be traded, and we have a pretty good (but not totally perfect) idea of where. Everything else is just speculation, well-informed though it may be.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via War On Ice unless otherwise noted.)