Remember all those trade scenarios involving Travis Hamonic (trade request to Western Canada) and Jacob Trouba (RFA coming out of an ELC) once Dustin Byfuglien (force of nature) signed a five-year extension in Winnipeg? Well a deal seems unlikely now, based on reports from both Arthur Staple and Elliotte Friedman.
In a column yesterday, Staple fleshed out a recent series of tweets in which he placed most of the focus on Trouba's agent Kurt Overhardt, who has overseen contentious contract negotiations for recent RFA holdouts Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Johansen. Friedman was on radio on Friday and said that Trouba's name had been out there at some point in trade talks between the Islanders and Jets (as was Byfuglien's), but also said the upcoming contract talks had been the big stumbling block.
A video on Sportsnet reiterates most of that, but throws in speculation that St. Louis could become a player somehow in this ongoing scenario.
So, where does that leave the Islanders? Mostly right where we left them.
Hamonic isn't getting traded during the season. Garth Snow wants to replace one top-four defenseman with another, preferably one not making a king's ransom. That's a lot of conditions to fulfill in two weeks when the trade deadline hits on February 29th.
It seems Snow did go right to Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to try to accommodate Hamonic by sending him to the team closest to his Manitoba home. A one-for-one match could not be found. Maybe, had a deal been worked out earlier and Trouba been allowed to assimilate into the Islanders locker room over the season, negotiations with Trouba's camp would have been possible. Or not. I don't know Kurt Overhardt from a hole in the wall, so who knows.
What about Winnipeg's other defensemen? Both Tyler Myers and Toby Enstrom are older than Hamonic (26 and 31, respectively) and making over $5.5 million per season ($5.75 million in Enstrom's case). Myers is signed until 2019 and Enstrom until 2018. They're also a bit of a Mutt & Jeff combo: Myers is a lumbering 6'-8" monster who spent a few years in the wilderness learning how to play to his size. Enstrom is a smaller guy - 5'-10" and 180 pounds - in the mold of Thomas Hickey.
Neither one's a bad player by any means, but judging by the rumors, neither has piqued Snow's interest either. They're both making appreciably more than Hamonic and closer to what the Islanders are already paying Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk. The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa reported this weekend that Trouba is looking for "Dougie Hamilton money," or around $5.75 million a season for six years. If he gets it, Enstrom might go. If he doesn't, Winnipeg will want a big return for him. Meanwhile, Snow also has two big UFAs of his own to worry about.
Once Hamonic is eventually moved (again, probably at the draft or at least the season's conclusion), he might go to another team other than Winnipeg, or the deal might involve a third team sending a defenseman to the Islanders and then sending Hamonic elsewhere. Anaheim has been suggested, as has St. Louis, as both have defensemen to spare.
Snow continues to have one of the best poker faces in the NHL. Friedman himself said that, "Not even the Jaws of Life get anything out of Garth Snow" which, if I were Snow, I'd have printed on my business cards or on a t-shirt to wear into meetings with agents.
But the real MVP of the whole situation has been Hamonic, who has played well throughout the season and has steadfastly refused to feed the Hot Stove by opening his mouth for reporters looking for logs to throw on the fire. In January, Hamonic shot down Ottawa Sun columnist Don Brennan with a quote that should bring a tear to the eye of anyone that's suffered through the various indignities of being an Islanders fan:
Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic had no interest in giving at update on the trade request he made earlier this season. "I addressed the team earlier in the season and that's who means the most to me, this organization and what they think," Hamonic said Friday morning. "That's as far as I'm going to go with your question. I'm excited to be here, I love it here, and I'm excited and proud to be an Islander."
Hey, Hammer: uh... any chance you might change your mind and just, like, stay a while longer?