Travis Hamonic – A Blend of Grit and Skill

Ryan Van Horne





Sometimes a player's character will impress a GM so much that they'll go to great lengths to get that player on their team. It's human nature, even if you're a fantasy GM and your league doesn't have categories for character and grit.


You can bet the New York Islanders were pretty proud of Travis Hamonic's symbolic gesture in the world junior final. The Team Canada defenseman had suffered a separated shoulder in the semifinal against Switzerland and could not play against the U.S. Still, he donned the jersey he worked so hard to earn and sat on the bench to be with his teammates. Many Canadian readers will know what I mean by that, but for folks elsewhere, you need to understand how much Canadian kids yearn to play for this team. The tryout camp in December is such a grueling test that the players often find they push the limits of what they're capable. It's like basic training, and when a player is cut from camp, it's not unusual for them to be in tears. This helps explain why Hamonic suited up even though he could not play. To make sure he didn't jump over the boards in the heat of the game, he wasn't allowed to wear shoulder pads; this speaks volumes about his character.


An NHL GM or scout would take note of things like this because players with this kind of character will help their team win. It's not as important for fantasy GMs, although solid character and a good work ethic usually mean a player has a better chance of reaching their potential.


Many will surely love the way Travis Hamonic plays, but you have to be careful — from a fantasy perspective – that you don't overrate a player such as Hamonic.


Hamonic still has value, but you have to look at the aspects of his skill set that will help you. Hamonic is a rugged, right-handed shooting defenseman whose offensive skills have blossomed since entering the WHL at 16. At the world junior tournament, Hamonic was part of Canada's top shutdown duo with Marco Scandella, but there is some offensive skill there and the fact that he's a right-handed shot will help. Only about 30 per cent of NHL defensemen are right-handed shots, but half of the jobs require a defenseman to work on the right side of the ice. This makes it easier to defend the boards against clearing passes and reduces the amount of time a player has to play the puck on his backhand. Being a right-handed shot also helps if a player has some offensive skill or a big shot because they can become an extra weapon with the man advantage. A power-play point tandem that combines a left-handed and right-handed shot is more dangerous because it opens up the cross-ice pass for the one-timer.


Hamonic is a classic late bloomer and is a good example of how defenseman can have offensive skill – but not show the production you'd expect at the time they're drafted.


Hamonic was listed as six-feet tall and 192 pounds when he was drafted, but he's grown. The WHL website has him listed at six-foot-two, 215 pounds and the Team Canada roster at the world juniors said he was six-feet tall and 219 pounds.


Hamonic had just five goals and 17 assists when the Islanders drafted him in the second round of the 2008 draft. His production surged in 2008-09 with Moose Jaw the next season and 13 goals and 27 assists in 57 games. This past season, it took another big jump and he finished with 11 goals and 33 assists in just 41 games. He followed up with four goals and seven assists in 15 playoff games


Hamonic came up big for the Memorial Cup host Brandon Wheat Kings last night (May 21st), scoring a goal and two assists. His goal was a blast from the point on the power play that tied the game with 11 seconds left in the second period and the Wheat Kings went on to win in overtime.

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