Travis Hamonic was born five months before Kevin Czuczman, who made a brief NHL debut this spring. The former will turn 24 this summer with 252 NHL regular season games under his belt. It's safe to say he's been one of the New York Islanders' most important -- and best -- young players ever since he arrived.
Though he hasn't brought the offense he has himself professed expectations to bring, this past season saw him making more incisive offensive forays and carries. First-unit power play time is probably never going to be in the cards (a major factor for offensive output), but freed from what had become a self-defeating -- or at least diminishing return -- pairing with Andrew MacDonald should allow Hamonic to deliver his best as he enters his prime.
That prime includes being locked up for the next six years at under $4 million per, by the way. We have him ranked third overall in our latest (Spring 2014) Top 25 Islanders Under 25 countdown, narrowly slipping behind a versatile rookie we'll talk about next.
First, here is how our panel each ranked Hamonic, and why:
|CIL||Keith||Mike B.||Mark||Mike L.||Chris||Dom|
For another year, Hammer holds on to the number two spot in my eyes. Facing the hardest QoC of his career, Hamonic managed to post the best possesion numbers of his career.
He needs to step it up a little offensively, which he seemd to do after MacDonald was traded. 2-6-8 in his final 19 games is the kind of thing I expect out of Travis over an 82 game season.
I dinged Hamonic this year a bit because early in the season, he was extremely shaky with Amac. Who wasn't though right? That's why I didn't ding him too hard, but if he's a franchise type defenseman, that doesn't happen.
Finally, one defenceman I never have to worry about.
Very important to the franchise. His play, of course, is vital to the defense, but it also represents a turning point in the Isles' dismal record of drafting and player development for the prior decade-plus: a non-lottery pick that hit. Before Hammer, it was Frans, kinda-sorta Comeau and AMac and Campoli... not much there. Now developing their own draftees is a big part of the Isles' plan (Nino notwithstanding).
Painfully underrated by the same press that was singing Andrew MacDonald's praises.
Hamonic has been a rock for the Islanders since injuries forced the team to rush him to the NHL in the 2010-11 season, after just 19 games in the AHL. Hamonic has been a lock on the Isles top pairing every since, only returning to the AHL briefly during the 2012-13 lockout.
Physical RD, strong on his skates, will drop the gloves, will defend a teammate, has leadership abilities. Smart defensively with some offensive potential. Has missed some time due to concussions.