What the Calgary Flames should do with Travis Hamonic

There is a new rumour afoot.

As reported by Bob Marjanovich on TSN1040 in Vancouver, Travis Hamonic‘s name is on the radar of a few NHL teams, specifically the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.

For unknown reasons, the tweet posted by TSN1040 earlier today that garnered quite a lot of interest has since been deleted. Still, if the Flames are considering re-signing Hamonic, this rumour needs to be addressed because at this point in Hamonic’s career, it’s probably best if the Flames do not re-sign him.

Hamonic is coming off of a truly tough season, and his worst as a Flame. He is, as Ryan Pike said on his hit with Sportsnet960 on December 14, 2020, the poster boy for the gritty and tough NHL defenseman. He blocks shots, he’s an amazing community leader, and sticks up for his teammates, but that’s just not enough to trump his negative on-ice impact last season.

Here’s why he shouldn’t be re-signed by the Flames.

Hamonic isn’t a fit

The Flames just signed Chris Tanev to a four-year contract. He’s a defensive defenseman, plays the right side, specializes in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill, and is a gritty, tough, NHL defenseman.

He’s basically a carbon copy of Hamonic. They’re both the same age, too, so it’s not like you’d get any kind of youthful bonus with one over the other.

Tanev was signed to fill the role vacated by Hamonic. Rasmus Andersson looks ready to assume first line duties, and Tanev’s job will be to fill that gritty penalty killing role that Hamonic served for three years on the Flames’ blueline.

There are already enough red flags around Tanev and his ability to be effective with the Flames; why would they want another Tanev? It just doesn’t make sense.

The only reasonable explanation for why the Flames would want to add Hamonic is that his role as a defensive defenseman is important enough to them to ignore the fit problem right now. He’s good enough that they’ll figure out how to use him because he’s worth it.

Unfortunately…

Travis Hamonic just isn’t good enough

He’s been effective throughout the majority of his career, but last season saw Hamonic decline.

Hamonic has never been, and will never be a force in the offensive zone. We can get that discussion out of the way right off the bat. Hamonic is known to thrive in his own end and be relied on to limit opposing chances. However, he’s far removed from that role, and he was a far cry from that description last season.

In terms of possession, Hamonic was below average in almost all metrics. All stats at 5v5, from Natural Stat Trick.

CF%SCF%HDCF%xG%
Hamonic 2019-2049.248.352.948.6
Avg. as a Flame51.852.053.551.0
Hamonic Career Avg.49.749.951.450.1

2019-20 saw Hamonic finish underwater in CF%, SCF%, and xG%, with HDCF% being the only major possession statistic in which he didn’t lose the battle.

Still, when comparing to his averages as a Flame and over his career as a whole, last season was a decline from what he’s delivered in the past. It was by far his worst season as a Flame, and was worse than his career average in the same three of the four categories.

Simply put, when it came to limiting offensive chances against and playing in his own zone, Hamonic did not come out on top last season.

He played almost exclusively with Noah Hanifin last season, and this chart from Micah McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) shows just how much that pairing struggled last season:

In essence, when the Hamonic pairing was on the ice, the Flames’ opposition allowed 9% more expected goals than an average defense pairing. Not great, and he didn’t really make a positive impact on any defenseman he was paired with all season.

Negative impact on his teammates

Hamonic played with three defensemen for at least 60 minutes last season: Hanifin, Mark Giordano, and T.J. Brodie. All three had better underlyings away from Hamonic than with him.

TeammateCF% DifferenceSCF% DifferenceHDCF% DifferencexGF% Difference
Mark Giordano-3.6-2.12.0-2.3
Noah Hanifin-1.8-3.6-0.9-5.7
T.J. Brodie-5.9-7.0-0.1-11.3

Giordano had a higher HDCF% with Hamonic than away from him, but that is really the only place where Hamonic made a positive impact on his defense partner. Granted, he did play with Hanifin with significantly more minutes than the other two, so looking at teammate isolations isn’t necessarily the most perfect way to evaluate his impact. However, it’s hard to ignore the numbers that clearly show Hamonic as having a net negative impact whenever he was on the ice at 5v5.

Looking at the forwards he played with is more of the same story. Hamonic played with 13 forwards for at least 60 minutes last season and here’s how they did with Hamonic compared to without him.

TeammateCF% DifferenceSCF% DifferenceHDCF% DifferencexGF% Difference
Andrew Mangiapane-3.2-2.02.7-5.2
Derek Ryan1.0-2.89.70.5
Dillon Dube-3.9-2.98.1-0.5
Elias Lindholm-2.2-0.610.2-0.3
Johnny Gaudreau2.9-0.36.4-0.6
Mark Jankowski-0.4-1.88.75.2
Matthew Tkachuk-7.3-4.6-1.0-7.3
Michael Frolik-3.7-4.9-3.0-4.4
Mikael Backlund-2.1-4.5-3.8-5.4
Milan Lucic-2.6-6.411.2-4.3
Sam Bennett0.4-2.51.6-3.7
Sean Monahan-0.7-4.03.4-3.5
Tobias Rieder-1.3-4.8-1.5-7.8

To Hamonic’s credit, Derek Ryan did appear to play better when Hamonic was on the ice. However, everyone else seemed to do worse. Not a single Flames forward was better in terms of scoring chances and only two were better in xGF% when they played with Hamonic.

Hamonic had one of those seasons where both offense and defense seemed to cease whenever he was on the ice, and that’s a huge red flag that doesn’t bode well for him or the Flames.

Forever a Flame

Numbers aside, Hamonic was a tremendous player, ambassador, leader, and teammate during his three year career as a Flame. His work in the community alone is worthy of praise and gratitude, and the positive impact he created off the ice is nothing short of incredible.

He’ll always have a place in the Flames family and community, and the good work he did will not be forgotten by the countless families he helped throughout the years.

Unfortunately, his best playing days are behind him, and the Flames will most likely be better off letting him sign his next contract elsewhere.

If the Canucks are interested in signing Hamonic, that would make a lot more sense. Their blueline would be greatly improved with his addition, and it would spice up the crazy offseason Flames/Canucks player swapping narrative even further.

Here’s hoping Hamonic is able to sign another NHL contract and return to the league next season, but just with a team that suits him better.


Do you think the Flames should re-sign Hamonic? Let us know in the comments or on social media.

Photo credit: Jonathan Hayward/CP

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