General manager Pierre Dorion didn’t make many big trades during the 2021-22 season as he did the following offseason and season. His most notable move that year involved trading a thriving Nic Paul to the Tampa Bay Lightning in return for Mathieu Joseph. On defense, Dorion traded a third-round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for… Travis Hamonic?
Acquiring Hamonic around the trade deadline came as a surprise to many fans. This seemed like a move that addressed depth for a Senators team that was already well outside playoff contention by the time they made the deal. The 32-year-old has also had recurring health issues in the past, only having played a full season once in his career in the 2012-13 lockout year. In the 19 games he played for the team the rest of the season, he put up three points.
At the beginning of the following season, Hamonic’s impact on the team remained unclear. But the Manitoba-born defenseman ended up being a solid veteran presence. In the 75 games he played, he put up six goals and 21 points, which was his best total since his 2015-16 season with the New York Islanders. He showed up every night ready to play and proved that he was worth the roster spot.
Hamonic proved to be a valuable veteran defenseman for the Sens. He needs a new contract and wants to stay on the team (from “How Travis Hamonic found a home with the Senators and why he wants to stay in Ottawa’’, The Athletic, 3/30/23). He will likely play in the NHL next season as many teams are looking for veteran depth. That being said, should Ottawa be the team that signs him?
The Veteran Presence
The Senators have a young defensive core in comparison to many teams, with many more coming up along the way. At the moment, 27-year-old Artem Zub is the oldest defenseman with a contract on the team. The rest of their top four, which happen to be the only others signed next year, includes 26-year-old Thomas Chabot, 25-year-old Jakob Chychrun and 20-year-old Jake Sanderson.
With Erik Brannstrom a restricted free agent and likely to be signed, Ottawa lacks a veteran presence 一 a crucial aspect for teams looking to go far in the postseason. Looking to the Florida Panthers as an example, defensemen such as Radko Gudas and Marc Staal play big minutes and offer valuable experience for their team.
Latest News & Highlights
For the Senators, Hamonic could be the guy that fits this role with the final roster spot. He’s never won a Stanley Cup, which could also be a rallying factor. But first, Ottawa would have to make the necessary adjustments to get to the postseason.
Options, Options, Options
Zub, Chabot, Chychrun, Sanderson and Brannstrom take up five of the roster spots on the back end for Ottawa. The race for the last spot is setting up to be extremely competitive.
On one end, more youth could be considered for that roster spot. Former first-round pick Jacob Bernard-Docker has been on the verge of making it for the past few seasons and could finally get his shot this year. Another former first-round pick in Lassi Thomson could also have a shot to make it on the team. Finally, Tyler Kleven already impressed during his short stint with the Senators this season and will compete to make it to the big leagues next season.
In addition to all these young players, Ottawa recently signed a player overseas in Nikolas Matinpalo, a signing that Dorion qualified as a “good depth addition” for the team. The 24-year-old Finnish defenseman put up seven goals and 16 points with the Assat Pori in his country’s top professional league.
If Ottawa signs Hamonic, he would also be competing for that roster spot. If he takes the final spot from one of these young players, it would counter all the drafting efforts they made in the past few years.
The Final Decision
The decision to sign Hamonic all comes down to the team’s priorities next season. If they want a veteran depth piece, he’s a good choice, as he’s already familiar with the team, its system and the role he plays in it. On the other hand, they should keep their word as a team that wants to build itself from the draft.
At the end of the day, as much as Hamonic was useful for the Senatorss, it may be time for him and the team to part ways in order to let all the pieces in the back end mold together. But if Hamonic were willing to come back on a very cheap deal, I would take a close look. Plus, maybe the team will opt to start the season with seven defensemen given their overload of prospects on the back end and their lack of forward depth.