Travis Hamonic wants to remain an Islander, which is the best news the team could have gotten on the day the players scattered for the offseason.
The 25-year-old defenseman informed general manager Garth Snow on Tuesday that Hamonic no longer wishes to be traded closer to his Winnipeg home, a request he made before the start of training camp after getting some dire news on the health of a family member.
“When Garth and I spoke last summer, the whole reason why this came about was some serious health concerns for a member of my family back home,” Hamonic said. “It was a tough, trying year but I had the support of the whole organization and my teammates the whole year and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
“In the last little while, we’ve learned the situation has stabilized itself. Just relieved for that, thankful for that, pretty grateful. I love being an Islander, it’s my home here, my family loves it, I love my teammates, this organization. Being an Islander is one of the best things I do with my life.”
Hamonic put aside the distraction of not only asking for a trade but that request going public in November to have one of his best seasons, posting 21 points and helping the Islanders to a second straight 100-point season as well as winning their first playoff series since 1993.
Snow made numerous attempts to find a trade fit, exploring deals with teams in cities close to Winnipeg as well as with the Jets, but could not give up on one of his top defensemen with one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league: Hamonic has four years left at an average annual value of $3.86 million.
“First and foremost I’m happy his family situation is better. That’s the bottom line,” Snow said. “I’ve always been concerned for not only Travis but all our guys away from the rink. It’s more important than anything they do on the ice. Is it relief, satisfaction that Travis came to me? Absolutely. We think the world of him as a person and a player. He’s a 25-minute defenseman and he’s very effective.”
Hamonic did not elaborate on when the good news came from Manitoba regarding his family, but was happy to talk again with Snow on Tuesday.
“It was a nice conversation we had,” Hamonic said. “I love it here, I honestly do. I wouldn’t have signed my seven-year deal if I didn’t love it here. I love everything about being an Islander, so I couldn’t be more ecstatic. To know things back home have stabilized is the main thing.”
And now the Islanders defense is stabilized heading into next season and into a summer in which Snow has many decisions to make regarding three key unrestricted free agents, forwards Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin, as well as an abundance of goaltenders to sort out.
But he won’t need to trade Hamonic.
“I really like our team in the net, on the blue line and through the middle,” Snow said. “I think we’re strong there. Do we need to make improvements? Absolutely. And we’re going to try to get better this offseason.”