According to Rob Simpson of Vancouver Hockey Now, the Vancouver Canucks have been shopping defenseman Travis Hamonic after it was learned he was unlikely to report to training camp and could be prepared to sit out the season. They’ve also been looking around at what options are available should Hamonic choose to sit out this season. Reports earlier this week revealed that a number of options are currently on the table for the blueliner, including retirement.
Because of today’s opt-out deadline, there is some added pressure on the Canucks to make a decision regarding Hamonic’s future. There is speculation he might be willing to accept a deal to play for a U.S. team and in a market where the travel is much less taxing and doesn’t require quarantining every time he and the rest of the roster cross the border — assuming he’s unvaccinated. It is believed Hamonic has not been vaccinated, but that is not entirely clear.
The Canucks aren’t exactly happy about how all of this has gone down. They’ve said the political thing publicly, but the belief is that they’re not pleased, having just signed Hamonic to a two-year deal for $3-million per season back on July 28th. At that time, there was no concern he wouldn’t be eligible to play this season.
If Hamonic opts out, his cap money immediately becomes available to the Canucks. And, should he, that decision is irreversible for the season, but the Canucks have the ability to trade that contract at any point. If he gives the organization the indication that he’s not going to opt-out, that’s a different story.
It’s presumed that as talks have ramped up yesterday and today, that the new, soon-to-be available money is factoring into the discussion. The Canucks should have a very good idea as to how much they plan to spend on the replacement, particularly if that player is already in camp.
The Problem With a Hamonic Trade
If the Canucks feel like their only option is to trade Hamonic, the team went get a strong return. One, it’s unclear how many teams would be interested. Two, if they are, they know they hold all the leverage in a deal. Jim Benning would likely be forced to add a sweetener to the deal to make a trade work. It’s hard to imagine he’d want to do so.
Not to mention, if Hamonic decides to opt-out, the Canucks immediately need to find a replacement for him, something that might not be easy to do with deals pending for Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.
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