Start with the assumption that the New York Islanders will lose the Travis Hamonic trade.
That's not being a downer, a fatalist or a critic, that's just the great likelihood in these situations, especially if news of a trade request increases the urgency that a deal be struck. When a team is dealing a player that it doesn't want to deal, when the list of acceptable teams to deal to is limited, and when all trading partners know it -- as they do now that it is out in the open -- then quite simply, the other teams can afford to wait it out until the Isles get desperate.
Granted, it's quite early in the process -- everything that follows here gets that caveat -- and maybe whatever Hamonic says on Thursday eases the pressure. But the Islanders reportedly are seeking equal value, and a defenseman, in return. That's how Elliotte Friedman's bombshell report put it:
Several sources indicate Snow is not interested in a picks or prospects type of return. He’s looking for equal-level replacement.
That’s reason No. 1 this hasn’t happened yet. There aren’t a lot of these players available.
That in itself will be tough.
Moreover, Friedman suggested, and TSN's Darren Dreger added, that there are further limits: Whatever the "kept private" reasons, it seems Hamonic is seeking a move closer to his Manitoba home, which reduces the list of trading partners -- and the Isles' leverage in talks -- Jets, Oilers, Flames, Canucks and possibly a few more Western Conference cities.
Even if you alter the scenario and have the Islanders, already loaded at forward, expanding their options and considering accepting a forward in a deal, it's going to be tricky.
Hamonic is a good (but not really "top pair on a contender") defenseman, signed to a pretty reasonable long-term deal in his prime years. Four-plus more seasons at a $3.85 million cap hit for a middle-pair, 25-year-old defenseman is a nice asset. But unless a team is enamored with having that kind of player on that kind of deal, it's hard to imagine who will be willing to make essentially a lateral move while the Islanders are under duress, when the trading partner did not initiate the move and thus can afford to wait.
Quick Browse Through Some Candidates
In Edmonton, Nikita Nikitin ($4.5 million cap hit and a UFA this summer) is buried in the minors for a reason, Andrew Ference ($3.25 million cap hit for two more seasons) is considered overpaid, ineffective and was stripped of the captaincy for a reason, while Oscar Klefbom ($4.167 million cap hit for three more seasons) is more expensive and part of their present, while Darnell Nurse projects to be a more valuable (and affordable) part of their future.
In Calgary, Ladislav Smid is a step down, Dennis Wideman is a more expensive and completely different kind of defenseman, and Kris Russell (a UFA this summer) is cheaper, but also not the kind of blueliner the Isles will be looking for.
Winnipeg has built a stable of top-four defensemen they wouldn't want to part with. If pending UFA Dustin Byfuglien can't be coaxed into an extension there, it's hard to see him signing with an unfamiliar team before hitting the open market.
If you expand the list to other Western teams, well, where do you go? The Blues in one way stand out since they suddenly have great depth on the right side with the emergence of Colton Parayko behind Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo, and they love Rob Bortuzzo as a fourth option. But none of those is a fit even-up (either too good, or not enough) for Hamonic.
Unless Patience Can Rule the Day...
The point here isn't to say it's a hopeless situation, but...well, the Isles may need to consider a combination of prospects and/or picks or even a larger trade involving forwards, or else accept they will lose this trade. (Of course, the wild card of prospects and picks is itself accepting that you've lost the trade.)
The one saving grace may be if Hamonic, who by all appearances has requested this trade before the season, is willing to be the loyal soldier and wait it out for as long as necessary until a right move comes along. Given his character reputation, his apparent commitment to the team when he signed for seven years, and how all parties tried to keep this quiet, that's certainly a possibility.
If that is indeed the case, and the Isles can afford to wait without this hanging over there head and becoming too much of a distraction, then maybe a better match will come along once conditions for another team change.
As this saga has already shown, certainly what you think is a given for your team one day can change overnight.