Strong Island: Depth On D

"I'll say this with a smile on my face, whenever you get a chance to throw the body on him, any opposing player I think you're obviously pretty happy," said Travis Hamonic in regards to a hit he had on Sean Avery after the Islanders 6-2 defeat of the New York Rangers on Thursday night.

"It's a rough sport. When I saw it was him I definitely didn't let up. He didn't let up either. I think it was just a matter of two bodies coming together and I got the best of him on that hit."

Hamonic did not start the season with the Isles but was able to find his way into the line-up as the injuries began to mount. Since his call-up from Bridgeport, Hammer, as his teammates call him, has become a main stay on the blue line and is emerging as a top-four defenseman, only at 20 years old. As seen in the play with the number one villain on the Island in Sean Avery, Hamonic is not afraid to throw his weight around and has emerged as a leader amongst a young defense core due to injuries to MacDonald, Streit and Jurcina.

"Talk about young guys, I'm gonna say that I'm an old guy, but I'm just kidding," he said in regards to the relatively inexperienced defense that joined the roster on an emergency basis in Ty Wishart, Mark Katic and Dylan Reese.

"Obviously I think it's something that's happened all season, ever since the middle of training camp guys have been getting hurt. That just shows how the management and the coaching staff and the scouts have really done a good job scouting because we have young guys who have been able to step in and play big minutes right away and not miss a beat out there. So a lot of the guys have all season have done a really good job of filling in when we have holes on the back end and I think the coaching staff has really done a good job of implementing a good system for us as well back there."

That system has allowed Hamonic to quickly accel in all areas of the game. He's contributed 3 goals and 20 assists for 23 points in 59 games played so far this season and is also a +6 along with 101 penalty minutes, showing a willingness to combat when needed in defense of a teammate.

He's also very quick to appreciate the work ethic and combativeness of those around him in the locker room. He pointed out how well goaltender Al Montoya has played and what he has meant to this team over the second half of the year.

"I think Al's been unbelievable for us ever since he got traded to us," said Hamonic. "He's really earned that second contract now with us. He's the kind of guy we have a lot of faith in."

The New York Islanders have managed to stock pile a strong bundle of prospects that have been able to play when needed in relief of injured players. Hamonic was one of the first to get the call and was able to find a home with the big club. For players like Katic, Reese and Wishart, who are all still developing their game, they could possibly see the same story play out for them as well. At the very least, the Islanders can say that they have solid depth on the blue line waiting for a chance to play.

-Rob McGowan

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