By this point there is zero mystery remaining on who is left in our Islanders Top 25 Under 25 countdown for Spring 2013. You know who's at the top, and simple deduction and a few fine years revealed who currently holds down the #2 slot.
It will be interesting, however, to see if Travis Hamonic can retain it until age bumps him off the list. Not only are there other prospects coming, but Hamonic's performance at age 22 (23 in August) might need another bump upward for us to continue raving about his play at this age.
To be sure, since earning promotion from Bridgeport Hamonic has impressed with mostly tough roles in his first two and a half seasons. He and Andrew MacDonald have formed a reliable go-to pairing, though who helps whom more -- and how well -- is a topic of some debate.
Hamonic's entry level contract has expired, so he's up for what could be a lengthy RFA contract extension if both sides agree on money and term. That could be an opportunity or a danger for the Isles: As a rule, key RFA defensemen sign for handsome money. But Hamonic's offensive production -- granted, in mostly defensive roles -- is not the kind you would pay a lot for.
So if the Isles get him cheaply and his offense blossoms with more opportunity in a post-Streit world, good for them. But if Hamonic gets them to pay top dollar yet his game does not grow, then good for him.
Hamonic has a cool back story, one that ESPN has begun to cover in-depth for a feature to run this fall. For his character, his background, his performance, Hamonic is a player who's impossible to dislike. We hope he's also one who's impossible to knock from the near-top of this list.
How our 25U25 panel all but unanimously ranked Hamonic:
What some had to say about him:
Chriss "Don't Call Me Rand" McNally
Here's where everyone on the panel starts to agree. It's amazing how good Hamonic got so quick, but in the playoff series against Pittsburgh he showed us that he can be even better. The way he manhandled Malkin is exactly what I expect to see game in and game out from Hamonic. He has the ability to shut forwards down on any given night with his physical play. His offense is better than what he showed in 2013, especially given all the PP opportunities he is likely to get in the future. I expect his points total to rise in 13-14.
Mike of the FIG people:
David o' the Hanssens:
Duh, Already a top pairing defenseman who logs over 20 minutes a night and plays in all situations. He and Andrew MacDonald's pairing were the most underrated defensive pairing in the Eastern Conference. Plus he'll still only be 23 next season.
So, it's not all that crazy to put him second among Islanders players under 25. But how good do you think he is, or how much better do you expect him to be?
25U25 Spring 2013 Countdown
6. F Casey Cizikas
15: d Calvin de Haan
16: F Anders Lee