Who could Islanders get to replace Travis Hamonic?
The Travis Hamonic Watch feels new, but Islanders general manager Garth Snow has been trying to accommodate Hamonic's trade request for six weeks.
If there were a simple move to be made, it would have been made by now. But we're talking about the Islanders' best defenseman on arguably the most cap-friendly contract (four years remaining after this one at an average salary of $3.875 million) for a top-pair, righthanded defenseman in the NHL. That's rainbow unicorn territory in its uniqueness.
So now that the request to be moved to, or closer to Hamonic's Winnipeg home for family reasons is public, what are Snow's options? Here's a primer on which defensemen the Isles may want, given that TSN reported earlier this week that the most interested list comprises these five teams:
JACOB TROUBA, JETS
He's righthanded, he's got a physical side and he could easily be a future star. Still only 21, the question for the Islanders is can Trouba jump in and play 23 minutes a night the way Hamonic does? The question for the Jets, the same one for all the other teams on this list, is would you give up one of your top young defensemen for Hamonic?
T.J. BRODIE, FLAMES
The closest match to Hamonic in age (25, same as Hamonic), contract (five years, $4.6 million per year) and usage (plays 25:19 a game). The Flames have allowed a league-high 75 goals this season, but Brodie is still likely the most attractive defenseman on this list despite being a lefty who could play his off side.
OSCAR KLEFBOM, OILERS
The 22-year-old hasn't yet played 100 NHL games but is proving to be a sharp player at both ends of the ice. He plays in all situations as Hamonic does and has a seven-year, $29.2 million deal that kicks in next season. Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli reportedly covets Hamonic and Klefbom, more than 20-year-old Darnell Nurse, would be the appropriate return in Snow's eyes.
TYSON BARRIE, AVALANCHE
A decent match age-wise (24) and he's a righty, but two counts against him: He's a pending restricted free agent with arbitration rights, meaning he'll get an enormous raise from the $3.2 million he's making this year, and while he's the best offensive defenseman on this list, his own-zone play may not be physical enough to replace Hamonic's snarl.
JONAS BRODIN, WILD
Minnesota has major salary cap issues, so even if it were willing to part with its best young defenseman -- Brodin is 22 but already has over 200 games in the NHL -- the Wild would have to figure out the financials to make this work. Seems the longest shot of the bunch.
There will certainly be other teams in the mix that fit Hamonic's criteria for a move, but there's a catch in all of them. The Blackhawks have no real match player-wise and cap issues, the Maple Leafs are rebuilding and may not want to part with a good young defenseman, the Sharks and Kings similarly have poor player fits.
So here we are, waiting.
Matt Martin: We'll handle turmoil
Matt Martin has been an Islander just as long as Hamonic has and Martin has seen and heard all manner of slights against his team. So the circus created by Hamonic's trade request going public won't faze the Isles core, he said.
"The national media's always been pretty hard on us," Martin said. "This really isn't something new, other than it's a bad situation for Travis, who's family to us. However it gets resolved, we can shut out the noise and focus on supporting him and each other."
One item to note on the request going public, as it was reported by Sportsnet and TSN on Wednesday: Snow strove to keep it quiet since the season began and may not be happy with whoever leaked it, perhaps in an attempt to pressure him into a deal.
If Snow and the Isles discover which team leaked the talks, don't bet on that team being the winner in this sweepstakes.
Ryan Strome Watch
Remember when Ryan Strome's demotion was the big story around this team? Strome scored his first goal Friday in five games since he was sent to Bridgeport, a late tying score in a 3-2 overtime loss to Rochester.
Strome has three points in the five games and is slowly getting his mojo back. He will almost certainly be back up with the Islanders by December.