By: Trent Leith / November 4, 2021
After missing all of pre-season, training camp and the first nine games of the regular season, Travis Hamonic made his debut for the Vancouver Canucks. Travis Hamonic was away from the team due to a mysterious personal issue that seems vaccine related, but both him and the team will not comment, citing his and his family’s privacy. His debut comes after a brief one game training stint with the Abbotsford Canucks of the AHL.
Hamonic entered the line up with the big club forcing Jack Rathbone down to the Baby Canucks, which in itself was a bit of a confusing transaction. After seeing Travis Hamonic play, it didn’t exactly answer any questions either.
A Head Scratcher of a Transaction
Many fans were left reaching for the Head and Shoulders on Monday when Canucks PR announced that Hamonic was recalled and Rathbone was sent to the AHL. This comes despite Rathbone playing quite well, with three points in 8 games and Hamonic coming in cold with no camp and one game played.
At first, it looked like the Rathbone move could’ve been but a paper transaction as he wasn’t at the Abbotsford Canucks practice following the announcement. But now after Tuesday’s game we know that Hamonic is indeed up here with the real Canucks and Rathbone is nowhere to be seen inside the NHL club.
After Hamonic had such a slow start last year partly due to missing training camp, it would have made more sense to the Vancouver Canucks’ overall team health to let Hamonic find his legs in the AHL. However the Canucks’ have clearly opted not to get up to game speed in the minors, and have yankedRathbone from the big club to make room for Hamonic.
With Rathbone, a lefty, being sent down, and Hamonic, a righty, being called up it has left Luke Schenn to play on his off-side to make sure the Canucks could ice three defenders on each side of the ice. Rathbone was the one selected to be sent down simply because of his ability to bypass waivers. Asset management wise, it was the best call, rather than risking losing a guy like Schenn, but it still begs the question, why did anyone have to go down so quickly just because Hamonic started playing again?
How Did Hamonic Play
Well, no sense dwelling on the fact it happened, how well did it work out you ask? Welp, not so good. Hamonic had a team worst 22.73 CF% in 14:55 of 5-on-5 action. Hamonic spent most of his time Tuesday night against the Rangers with Luke Schenn on his left and when together, they only had a 22.22 CF%.
With stats like that, you would expect to see that they saw extremely defensive deployment and thus spent a lot of time in-zone for poor possession numbers. But I regret to inform you that according to Natural Stat Trick, Hamonic had no defensive starts. All Travis’ starts were in the neutral zone, offensive end, or on the fly.
To Hamonic’s credit he did have two hits and two blocks on the night and was second by only two seconds to Tyler Myers for 5-on-5 ice time in his first game back.
It’s only one game back for Travis, and it’s unclear exactly what he has had to go through off the ice to get to this point. If there is anything to take away from the last few weeks of news in the hockey world, it’s that you don’t often have the entire picture watching from home.
I’m sure in time Travis will find his game and get back to his best, and the Canucks do need him to. That said, I don’t think there is, or was a rush to get him back with the Vancouver Canucks. Hamonic wasn’t an immediate upgrade on Rathbone. It would be better suited for the Canucks, Rathbone and Hamonic, if he were to have stayed in the AHL until he was needed for a call up, or until he was knocking down the door to get back into Vancouver.
With the Abbotsford Canucks just down the road, what’s the harm in taking your time with Hamonic? It would take him less than an hour to make the trip from the Fraser Valley if he was called up, it’s not like he was hurried somewhere out east playing for the farm team of old.