Travis Hamonic is a well-established shut down defender who was attracting much discussion prior to the deal being made. For about 12 months, it has seemed to be only a matter of when and not if he were to be traded. The destination being Calgary isn’t much of a surprise either, as he showed immediate gravitation to Alberta early last year because of family. It is also a very fitting situation for the Flames as they have been openly seeking to employ a defenseman in the 4th slot of their depth chart.
Despite the departure of Deryk Engelland, who is headed to Vegas after being chosen in the expansion, and the contract expiration of Michael Stone, the Flames organization and fans can rest easy knowing that they now have one of the top defensive cores in the league. One could argue how the Flames would still be ok without Hamonic if they were able to resign Stone, however, many people fail to realize the important role which Engelland has been able to fill over the past few years. With injuries to multiple top 4 defensemen on the Flames including Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and Michael Stone, Engelland was always able to step up and fill the 4th man role very reliably. The addition of Hamonic at least begins to make up for the losses suffered this off-season by Calgary’s core.
The price to pay for the elite defender may initially seem to be non-worthy of the Flames’ attention, credit must be given to Treliving for realizing a large opportunity in front of him and seizing it. By giving up a first rounder in 2018, and a second rounder in both 2018 and 2019 (the latter being conditional depending if the Flames make the postseason), Treliving is banking on the probability that none of those picks turn out to be as valuable as Hamonic in the long run. What the Flames’ GM has now is a team who is without the patience to wait another 3-4 years for his future picks to develop into hit and miss players. He strongly believes that the time for the Flames to make a move is now, and is confident in their structure to begin heavily pursuing the cup.
The Flames may still be looking to fill the 5th and 6th man roles during the off-season, in which case they may look to the free-agent market or possibly reach into their deep prospect pool to give them a shot at the NHL level (unless Stone can be signed for under $3 million, he is an unlikely returnee). It seems that Brett Kulak would certainly be a good choice, as he has easily put in the most NHL minutes, although young talents such as Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson seem to be rapidly approaching NHL-ready status.
Many comparisons have already been made to Nashville regarding the Flames’ back-end squad. Although the two teams may lack fire power up front, Nashville has demonstrated what a stacked defensive core can accomplish through the post-season by making it to the Stanley cup finals while still lacking star-power up front.
There is no doubt that Hamonic as well as other roster activity will have an immediate impact on the Flames, it is now just a matter of the coaching staff factoring them into the lineup and systems.