The Ottawa Senators have traded a 2022 third-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for Travis Hamonic. The pick is actually Vancouver’s own selection, which means it will likely land somewhere in the mid-70s.
Hamonic, 31, has recorded three goals and four assists in 24 games played this season. Hamonic is in the first of two-year deal with a $3M AAV. Curiously enough, he is owed a $1.25M bonus this off-season — paying bonuses have historically been anathema to the Sens.
On the surface, the simple explanation for this is that Sens management have decided that they need some veteran help on the blue line if the team is going to take a step forward next year. Hamonic, who will be 32 before the start of next year, certainly fits the bill in that regard.
Once you scratch a bit beyond the surface, however, it becomes a lot more difficult to justify the deal. Hamonic has, frankly, been quite bad the last few years:
It is also worth noting that Hamonic was on waivers before the season began, and that he passed through unclaimed. Now, five months later, the Sens have traded a third round pick for a player that no one wanted for free.
Furthemore, there is the complicating factor that Hamonic had famously previously asked to be traded to Western Canada by the New York Islanders because he wanted to be closer to his family. He does not seem to have taken the news of the trade well:
Travis Hamonic agent Kevin Epp - I think Travis is disappointed, the team is pushing for playoffs and he wanted to be apart of that. Travis played hard in Vancouver, we kind of new a defenseman was leaving VAN for cap reasons.— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) March 20, 2022
The price to acquire Hamonic, a third round pick, is not a devastating loss for the Sens considering where they are at in the rebuild. The organization should be in the business of trading future assets for NHL-ready players that can help today. The trouble is that Hamonic has not been a helpful NHL player for a couple of seasons now and he’s only getting older. It’s hard not to view this deal as a repeat of the Erik Gudbranson deal; an unpleasant comparison if there ever was one.
As for the Sens’ prospects, this trade also virtually guarantees that only one of Erik Brännström, Lassi Thomson, and Jacob Bernard-Docker will play a meaningful role next season barring another trade. Maybe the youth would not have been ready to help carry the load next season, but I struggle to see how adding Hamonic helps move the needle in a positive direction.
Throughout his tenure as GM, Sens fans have lauded Pierre Dorion’s track record on the amateur side of things while fretting about pro scouting. This trade will only amplify the criticisms.