The term “anti-vaxxer” carries certain connotations, but in the case of Vancouver Canucks defenceman Travis Hamonic, it’s not some extremist viewpoint. His decisions are always based on what’s best for his family. It is ironic considering his earlier career requests to leave Long Island and move closer to home, Manitoba specifically, that Hamonic would now accept or even encourage a trade to a US market.
However, a source close to the situation says the Vancouver Canucks are considering such a deal. GM Jim Benning has not yet been available for comment.
Last week at the media availability at Rogers Arena before the start of training camp, Benning believed that Hamonic would indeed make it into camp prior to last Thursday’s on-ice sessions, if not for the off-ice evaluations the day before. It didn’t come to fruition, and Hamonic remains in Manitoba.
Hamonic is a top-pair right-shot defenceman who has played previously and effectively with young star Quinn Hughes, who remains unsigned. Hamonic signed a two-year $6-million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on July 28th, returning to the club after playing 38 games here last season. It’s not clear if Hamonic has simply changed his mind or if Covid pandemic conditions or protocols in Canada and the US have led to this apparent reversal.
The opt-out option is on the table for the player. Hamonic has until Friday to make that decision and sit out the season. The Vancouver Canucks management would potentially save even more money if they were able to deal Hamonic in return for a much smaller contract. It would free up more money for the contracts of unsigned free agents Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. Maybe their shared player agent Pat Brisson and Benning are waiting to see what develops and what potential money frees up.
Both options lead to one huge question; who the heck replaces Hamonic on the right-side of the D-corps, a roster area some consider thin.
Also, for a US-based club, do they really want to acquire a player who can’t cross into Canada to play because of Covid rules, and how would that go over if the team ended up playing a Canadian team in the postseason? Do teammates want an “anti-vaxxer” in the dressing room? That’s a question purely for speculation and would likely change team to team, roster to roster. Money aside, it seems somewhat doubtful that a US-based NHL GM would want to part with a player of any impact and take on salary in exchange for a part-timer like Hamonic.