Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school sports, hockey and football.
When Dustin Byfuglien signed his five-year, $38-million extension with the Jets on Monday, attention turned back to Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic and his preseason trade request to be moved either back to his Winnipeg hometown or closer to it.
With Byfuglien signed, it was mused that the Jets would be more willing to swap defenseman Jacob Trouba, the No. 9 pick in the 2012 draft, for Hamonic. It doesn’t appear that the Islanders feel the same way.
Two sources indicated that the Isles’ appetite for trading Hamonic, who has been the team’s most consistent defenseman this season, is still exceedingly low for an in-season move, with the trade deadline now just 15 days away.
Even in the summer, a Trouba-for-Hamonic deal would be problematic for many of the same reasons Isles GM Garth Snow couldn’t find a trade fit in September and October, when he had numerous discussions with his fellow general managers in hopes of accommodating Hamonic’s desire to move.
Hamonic has four years left on a contract that carries a cap hit of $3.857 million per year, with an actual salary of $4.875 million starting next season. Trouba is just finishing his entry-level deal and is reportedly searching for a long-term, big-money contract, possibly in the $6-7 million per year range.
Trouba’s agent is Kurt Overhardt, whose name doesn’t bring a smile to a general manager’s face. Overhardt’s clients include three players who held out after their entry-level deals expired.
Brandon Dubinsky, who held out for eight days before signing a two-year deal with the Rangers prior to the 2009-10 season; Kyle Turris, who held out on the Coyotes, signed a two-year deal in November and eventually was traded to the Senators during the 2011-12 season and Ryan Johansen, who held out on the Blue Jackets for the entire 2014-15 training camp before signing and was recently dealt to the Predators.
That is not a minefield Snow wants to enter, particularly if it means shipping off his most cost-effective defenseman. Perhaps there’s a larger deal to be made in the offseason involving Hamonic, but it makes no sense to jump the gun now that Byfuglien is signed.
Remember, too — as Snow certainly does — that word of Hamonic’s trade request was leaked to the media in November by one of the teams Snow had discussed a deal with. That team, as yet unidentified but believed to be known to the Isles organization, will surely not be at the head of the line when trade talks on Hamonic resume.