The Vancouver Canucks have added tremendous grit and veteran leadership with the signing of defenceman Travis Hamonic.
This 30- year-old right-handed shooting defenceman, who is of Metis decent, created lots of excitement in Vancouver after officially signing a player tryout contract at the beginning of January’s training camp.
“He’s an experienced player that we know can come in and help us,” Canucks General Manager Jim Benning said. “I’m excited that he chose to come in and sign a PTO with us because I think he’s going to help with our back end. When we talked about bringing him to camp… one of the things that came up is we’re going to have some young players on defence this year and he can help with their development. He’s a veteran player, he plays with passion, he plays hard and we think he’s going to be a good fit with our group.”
A veteran of 10 NHL seasons, Hamonic who is expected to make the Canucks out of training camp was originally drafted 53rd overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders. Known for his relentless shot blocking and effective penalty killing, this 6’2” 205 -pound defenceman is someone who won’t hesitate to drop the gloves to stick up for teammates. Following seven seasons with the Islanders, Hamonic has for the past three seasons played for the Calgary Flames. During those three seasons Hamonic proved to be a horse in averaging 20:53 of ice time over 193 games while scoring 42 points. Rumours have it that the Canucks and Hamonic have already agreed to parameters on a one-year deal.
“He has played a lot of hard minutes that go unnoticed, and with the schedule, you’re going to need depth,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “What he provides are a lot of things that you need to win. He’ll block shots at the end of a game and play the penalty kill. It’s not always offence that wins. It’s defensive hockey as well and he can bring that to our group.”
Hamonic, who is from St. Malo, Manitoba, is one of several highly skilled indigenous defencemen currently playing in the NHL. Upon being drafted by the Islanders, Hamonic would go on to play seven seasons with them before spending the last three seasons with the Flames. Not known for his offence, Hamonic is coming off a season which saw him score 3 goals, 12 points and 27 penalty minutes in 50 games played.
Hamonic and wife Stephanie have been heavily involved during the years in community work. A couple of years ago, during the 2016-2017 season, Hamonic was the backbone of a television show titled “Hit the Ice,” which focused on young up and coming First Nations hockey prospects who showcase their skills during an intense two -week NHL format training camp in hopes of catching interest of junior scouts. During his time in Calgary Hamonic and his wife were also involved in what was called The Northern Project initiative which gives Indigenous children from remote places such as Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon, a chance to experience the thrill of coming to Calgary, meeting Hamonic and seeing a Flames game. He also had what was called the D-Partner Program, which targeted children who had lost parents to come to a game and afterwards meet the big defenceman.
The Canucks have definitely improved their blueline with some grit and toughness along with adding leadership in the signing of Hamonic.