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Travis Hamonic: How Interested Should the Canucks Be?

Reports indicate the Islanders' Travis Hamonic is on his way out of New York and is seeking a trade to Western Canada. How far should Vancouver pursue this?

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

News broke Wednesday that the New York Islanders are quietly shopping 25-year-old defenseman Travis Hamonic after he requested a trade out of Brooklyn before the beginning of the season. According to Darren Dreger, Hamonic has expressed a desire to move to Western Canada, listing the Canucks, Oilers, Flames and Jets as potential landing spots. So should the Canucks look at Hamonic as a trade target?

The answer is very simple: yes. Hamonic has proven to be a very reliable top-four defenseman on a competing Isles team over the past few years. And with his very appealing contract ($3.85 million AAV until 2020) and the fact that he is only just entering his prime, Hamonic is conceivably the best defenseman on the trade market right now. Losing him would be a very big hit to the Islanders.

But what would he bring the Canucks? Jim Benning must love his age. Hamonic would fit perfectly with his idea of a transitional rebuild, where acquiring good, young players without having to suffer years of "tanking" is the ultimate goal. But what does Vancouver have to give back?

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Islanders GM Garth Snow wants a quality for quality trade, where New York receives a good quality defenseman in order to compete now. There are only three players that could realistically meet that criteria: Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis.

I doubt Tanev will be traded. He, too, is just entering his prime and is signed to a similarly strong contract and he’s carved himself out a spot on the top-pairing for the past two seasons. That trend continued this year as Tanev has been far and away the best defender in this campaign.

Alex Edler might be the most conceivable trade bait. Signed until 2019 on a $5 million contract and at 29 years old, his age and contract might be worrisome for Snow, but Edler has been a strong option skating on the top pairing with Tanev since the beginning of last season. Hypothetically, if this was a one-for-one deal, I’d say the Canucks would come out slightly on top.

The best-case scenario for Vancouver would be giving up Dan Hamhuis, whose play has been deteriorating significantly over the past year or so. It was already heavily speculated that Hamhuis’s days in Vancouver were numbered (32-years-old on a re-tooling team and an expiring contract) but that talk was all centred around a deadline deal for picks/prospects.

Additional parts would need to be added from Vancouver’s end to make this deal work (let’s say a couple early-round picks), but even so I don’t see any way this could happen without New York being incredibly desperate, which they won’t be with Winnipeg and Edmonton chomping at the bit. The Islanders will want a player with term coming in return, and if they bring in Hamhuis, it’s possible they could lose him for nothing in July. There’s just no incentive there.

Acquiring Hamonic would be a major win for Jim Benning and the Canucks’ front office, but with the Islanders having a very specific idea of what they want in return and Vancouver competing with several other teams in the "Hamonic sweepstakes", the Canucks’ chances don’t seem too good. That being said, Benning would be remiss if he doesn’t do all he can to bring Hamonic to the west coast. Players of his value don’t come around very often.