The New York Islanders announced the signing of Travis Hamonic to a three-year entry-level contract. Hamonic completed his four-year junior hockey league career with the Brandon Wheat on Sunday as they were defeated by the Windsor Spitfires in the Memorial Cup Championship. The 6'2", 215 pound defenseman was named a 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup All-Star, totaling 11 points (four goals and seven assists) in 15 games.
Hamonic is a slayer of men, a crusher of dangling forward dreams, possessing a physical chip on his shoulder the size of Rhode Island and a general hockey mystique that makes women swoon from Brandon, Manitoba, to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
>>team release, slightly altered w/ my own hyperbole
This was long expected and thankfully negotiations with the 53rd-overall pick -- the Isles' fourth in the 2008 draft -- appeared to go quite smoothly. But it's nice to have a signing announcement that fans can feel tangibly excited about, no? While prudence dictates we not see him in an Islanders uniform next season except for training camp and emergency purposes, it's nice to get a guy in the fold who: 1) we got to see excel in the WJC and the Memorial Cup, and 2) we can be confident will be a legit NHL defenseman.
If you weren't around here then, the Lighthouse Hockey interview with Hamonic this past winter after his trade to Brandon gives you a taste of the kid's approach. At the time, his goal for this season was to "round out my play and prove I could be a complete player. Prove I could put the puck in the net, complete a hit, fight, be a shutdown guy, do it all..." Of those, he said he enjoyed shutting opposing forwards down the most.
In today's game, the "top pair"/"second pair" labels with defenseman can be a little misleading, I think. When you have a true #1 defenseman as your anchor -- a Streit or better -- you can spread your resources in different ways, where your second-best D-man is not on your first pair but actually anchoring your second pair. In other words, defense-focused Andrew MacDonald looked just fine next to Streit in the second half of 2009-10, though you'd never call MacDonald a "#2."
So: Could Hamonic be a top-pair defenseman? Well, next to a guy like Streit, he'd possibly be fantastic. Peanut butter and jelly. So the question for us might be: Could Hamonic one day be the anchor -- rather than the complement -- on a second pairing? What are your realistic hopes and expectations? When do you figure he'll be a full-time Islander?