CHICAGO — The Islanders sent Travis Hamonic to Calgary for first-round and second-round picks in next year’s draft on Saturday, finishing off a busy draft week with a moderately revamped roster and a few more future assets in the bank should general manager Garth Snow look to further add to his team before next season.
Hamonic was rumored to be on the move all week, even as he accepted the NHL Foundation Player award in Las Vegas on Wednesday for his charity work during seven seasons with the Islanders. The 26-year-old defenseman has been a heart-and-soul player during his 444 games with the team and endured a personal roller-coaster in 2016-17, when he requested a trade to be closer to his Winnipeg home to deal with a family issue and then rescinded the request after the season.
“Just a first-class player, a first-class person,” Snow said. “These deals are always tough to do because there’s an emotional element to how he is in our community, in the locker room. It’s a move we’re willing to make because of the depth on our blue line. I think he’s in a good place to play, for his family. And the Islanders got a solid return.”
With three years left on Hamonic’s contract at a modest $3.857-million cap hit, the Islanders opened up some precious cap space and the Flames were giddy about adding Hamonic to a top-four defense that includes Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton. In comments to the Flames’ website, Hamonic also sounded giddy. Sources had said he was resigned to moving on from the Islanders.
“I’m really excited,” Hamonic said. “I have a pretty awesome opportunity in front of me. We were kind of in limbo wondering if it happened or not, and then we found out and we’re all pretty excited about going to Calgary, to say the least. That’s an understatement. We’re pret ty jacked up.”
After wheeling the Isles’ first-round pick and Mikhail Grabovski’s $5-million cap hit to Vegas to keep the expansion team from selecting an Islanders regular on Wednesday, Snow sent Ryan Strome to the Oilers for proven scorer Jordan Eberle on Thursday, setting the stage for a Hamonic move as the draft unfolded.
Snow had an offer out to the Avalanche, with Hamonic and the Islanders’ 2018 first-round pick as part of a package for Matt Duchene, while at the same time shopping Hamonic to defense-hungry teams such as the Flames and Maple Leafs for an asking price of two first-round picks. Those were two very different paths Snow was staring down.
Avalanche GM Joe Sakic balked at a Duchene move, as he has for months. The Flames and Leafs balked at Snow’s asking price as Friday night’s first round unfolded, with Toronto reportedly offering a package that included forward James van Riems dyk and a 2018 first-round pick.
But Snow went exclusively with futures to keep that cap space open — the Islanders have roughly $9 million in space right now, with restricted free agent Calvin de Haan needing a new deal — and keep the Isles’ options open should Duchene not be moved elsewhere.
Two league sources said Pat Brisson, Duchene’s agent (also the agent for John Tavares), is seriously unhappy with Sakic’s foot-dragging on a deal. That could lead to a reduced price tag later on should Snow still be interested.
For now, he seemed quite happy with his team’s situation.
“Over the course of the last few days, five days, there was a few different scenarios where it was about potential players coming in or draft picks. We weighed what the best deal was for our team and we pulled the trigger,” Snow said of the Hamonic trade. “It’s going to give some of our younger D an opportunity to get some playing time. We’re really confident in that position moving forward.
“This was a situation we felt we could capitalize on bringing in some assets, whether we use those in the future in a draft or use those as currency in a future player transaction. It’s a good luxury for our organization to have.”