“It’s a non-starter,” said one NHL executive who’s team is completely vaxxed. As VHN first reported Monday, the Vancouver Canucks have been shopping defenceman Travis Hamonic ahead of Friday’s opt-out deadline. It has not been confirmed by Hamonic’s camp as to whether he would show up to play in a market south of the border should he be dealt, or if he’ll opt out of playing this season either way. His agent has not returned repeated calls.
The executives from US based teams said they didn’t even get to the point of discussing terms with Canucks GM Jim Benning, as the concept of bringing aboard a player who would be limited to approximately 2/3’rds to 3/4’s of the schedule because of cross-border Covid protocols was uninviting. This is also not the time of year when teams are looking to pick up salary just for the sake of picking up salary. The other NHL teams would have complete leverage in this situation, and there’s no word as to whether the Canucks were willing to sweeten the pot somehow to move the player.
So yes, the Vancouver Canucks have been jilted. As we pointed out Monday, there was no reason to believe Hamonic wouldn’t show up to play this season, when the likely top-pair righty signed a two-year deal for $3-million per season back on July 28th. Covid was obviously already an ongoing issue as was Hamonic’s family concerns. These recent developments have tied the hands of Canucks management with training camp underway and difficult negotiations continuing with the agent for un-signed stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.
There is however, as we have pointed out in our follow-up Tuesday, a silver lining to this. Hamonic’s cap money immediately becomes available to the Canucks once the player decides not to participate. An opt-out is irreversible for the season and the Canucks have the ability to trade that contract at any point. More importantly, a portion of the $3-million cap hit becomes available to the Vancouver Canucks and player agent Pat Brisson of CAA in their negotiations. Subtract what the Canucks will have to pay the player who replaces Hamonic in the line-up, at least $750,000, and add the $2.25 million or less to the breathing room in a deal for Pettersson and Hughes. If they pay a D-man $1.5-million to fill the spot, then they’d have an extra $1.5-million to work with, etc. It’s presumed that as talks have ramped up yesterday and today, that the new, soon-to-be available money is factoring into the discussion. The Canucks should have a very good idea as to how much they plan to spend on the replacement, particularly if that player is already in camp.
VHN has also learned that Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has made calls regarding a deal for non-vaxxed forward Tyler Bertuzzi. Less urgent, as it’s a US market, but it’s sounding more and more like teams are hoping to avoid the headache altogether, with strict NHL and government protocols in place. In a related story, the Columbus Blue Jackets waived forward Zac Rinaldo today (Thursday). Team President John Davidson took a no-nonsense, non-budge position in that players and staff must be vaccinated.
“It’s a tough situation, a tough, tough situation,” one NHL executive stated. “Jimmy made a deal, tried to make his team better, and the player decides not to play. People shouldn’t be mad at him, and they really shouldn’t be mad at the player either. Every situation is different and it’s about personal choice. Part of life. But now he’s down a defenceman.”
One would expect a single announcement, or multiple, regarding the Vancouver Canucks roster over the next two days.