With Hammer, Isles Retooled for Future

Travis Hamonic has been growing as a player since the day he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 NHL Entry Level Draft. After playing two more years in the WHL, Hammer floated his way up to the AHL in 2010-11 to play with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the ripe age of 20. The Isles saw enough of Travis in 19 games to believe he was ready for NHL level competition. He started his career with the New York Islanders in November 2010 and has been a staple on the Islanders’ blue line since. (Photo Credit: clydeorama/Flickr)

Travis Hamonic’s impressive play did not stop on defense. He added 21 assists to go along with his 5 goals that season. Most telling of his stellar performance was his +/- which resided at +4 after his first year in the NHL.

In 2011-12, Hammer’s rise up the Islanders’ depth chart continued. He had another promising campaign full of great defensive plays and improvement in all aspects of his game. Hamonic finished with a +6 to go along with his 22 assists. Although, he may have decreased his uniform number from 36 to 3, his play has only increased with time.

But there are traits about Travis Hamonic that go beyond the statistics. On paper, he is a rising star in the Islanders organization and one of the best young defensemen that has donned the uniform in a long time. But his intangibles are what truly excite fans of the Islanders.

On February 4th, 2012 in a game against the Sabres, Hamonic took a shot to the face that left him bloodied on the ice.

Travis Hamonic was unaware that the shot had broken his nose. In an interview done on the Islanders Official Website, he recounted the horrific details of his injury that night.

“Everyone just kind of kept telling me at first that I had a really bad cut on my nose,” Hamonic said. “So I told them, ‘Fine, stitch me up. I want to go.’ I think there were about 12 minutes left in the game at that point. It was a 3-2 game and I was actually arguing with the doctors and the training staff to let me go back on the ice and play. Obviously, they said no.” (New York Islanders Official Website)

But that type of team first attitude and heart is what the Islanders have been missing for a long time. Travis Hamonic plays a style of hockey that would make the greats from the 70s, 80s and 90s proud. He is a warrior in the truest sense of the word.

Travis Hamonic had to have his nose repaired through surgery. He was out for only two weeks returning to take on the rival Rangers.

While it would seem obvious and perhaps understandable that once back in the line up Hamonic would be a little cautious before jumping back into the physicality of the game, he wasn’t. It would have been understandable for him to shy away from contact to protect his newly repaired nose. But that is not how it happened. Hammer came back playing harder than ever, battling in corners and taking the body of the opponent with an indestructible attitude. (Photo Credit: spotboslow/Flickr)

While other teams in the NHL see him as a key prospect in the Islanders organization that could be a top defensemen, he is more than that. He is a warrior with a style of play that inspires his team and the fan base. In order to fully appreciate Hammer's game, one has to watch him on a nightly basis. The work ethic and refusal to accept anything less than superb play is a refreshing addition to the Islanders.

He will only get stronger and better as time goes on. As this group of young players travel into their prime wearing the Islanders sweater, Travis Hamonic will shine a little brighter than most. Aside from John Tavares, he is the brightest young player on the roster at the moment. His hockey IQ is increasing which is only great news for the Islanders fans.

Needless to say, he is an untouchable commodity that the Islanders need to lock up for a long time. Reasons like his intangibles and sheer talent, are why Hamonic has risen from prospect to cornerstone in such a short period of time.

John Tavares may be the face of the future on offense but Travis Hamonic is every bit of that on defense.

-Steve Giangaspro
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