Laying Down The Hammer
I've had the pleasure of talking with Travis Hamonic several times throughout my years with the NYI Blog Box. I've actually been in touch with him since his days in the WHL, then with the Moose Jaw Warriors. If you read my interview with him when he was only 19 years old and still hoping to make it to the NHL, you would see that this kid had plenty to say before he was earning a professional paycheck. (Photo Credit: bridgetds/Flickr)
Not much has changed with the one that everyone calls, "Hammer." He's just a kid living the dream that loves to play hockey. To be honest, judging from my time spent in the locker room, he is easily, if not the biggest heart and soul player they have on that team. He always wears his heart on his sleeve and is quick to defend his team on the; he does the same off the ice with his words. I remember asking him once what "the problem" was with his team's play, and he was quick to respectfully shoot my question down and say there aren't any problems, just areas that went wrong that could be fixed. He bleeds orange and blue amongst the best of them.
It shows merit to the Islanders scouts and management, who have not only done a good job of drafting young talent, but finding character guys with leadership qualities as well. That's why Hamonic has become one of Snow's best draft moves in 2008.
Last year he appeared in 62 games in his rookie season with the Islanders after starting the year with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He scored seven points in 19 games with the Isles' farm club before getting the call up to the NHL once another defenseman went down with an injury. What was probably expected to be a brief taste of the big leagues would turn into a permanent fix on the blue line. By the end of 2011, Hamonic scored five goals, 21 assists and 26 points with a +4 rating along with 103 penalty minutes. (Clydeorama/Flickr)
This year his offensive production hasn't been as noticeable, although it has picked up as of late. Instead, his defensive game has taken a nice jump in the right direction. He leads the team with a +7 rating with 21 points in 63 games (2 goals, 19 assists). His physical presence has been seen each night. Despite the fact that he has been forced to wear a cage after suffering a broken nose earlier in the year, Hamonic is still quick to get in the face of any opponent when needed - and if that mask wasn't on, he would probably drop his gloves in a hurry. He was quick to do so against a much bigger opponent in Mike Rupp last year in the Isles/Pens slug fest at Nassau Coliseum and continued with that attitude right into opening night of this season, fighting Scottie Upshall after he took some liberties with Al Montoya.
Hamonic might not be the marquee top four defenseman that this team wants, but he is definitely one of the most reliable top four defenseman that this team has needed for several years. And he's only 21 years old...for all we know, he might just be barely scratching the surface with how good he really can be.