Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports
If you had to pick one position at which the Winnipeg Jets are pretty much set, you’d probably choose right-handed shooting defensemen.
In Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers, the Jets have some excellent right-handed shooting blue-line pieces. Even if Byfuglien leaves in free agency, with Myers signed through 2019 and Trouba cost controlled for even longer, the Jets are set on the right point for the next half decade or more.
Understandably then, it may be tough for the Jets to accommodate Manitoba-born right-handed shooting defenseman Travis Hamonic, currently of the New York Islanders. Born in St-Malo Manitoba, Hamonic would love to don a Jets jersey at the MTS Centre, but reportedly, the Jets are reluctant to give up the sorts of pieces that might make it happen.
Here’s the latest on the Hamonic situation from TSN’s Darren Dreger, who said the following on Thursday night’s edition of Insider Trading:
Well it’s still relatively early even though the process has been ongoing since the summer, but there are five teams that we believe are in the forefront. It starts with Winnipeg, because he is Western Canadian and he is from Manitoba. You’ve got the Oilers, you’ve got the Flames, you’ve got the Minnesota Wild, and you’ve got the Colorado Avalanche who are most keen.
Kevin Epp of Titan Sports, who represents Hamonic, was given permission by Garth Snow of the New York Islanders to talk to general managers with interest. It’s expected that unless one of those teams step up big, that list will grow.
Dreger further elaborated on what Winnipeg might be willing to deal for Hamonic, and suggested that the club would be very hesitant to deal Myers.
“It sounds like (the Islanders are asking for Myers or Trouba),” Dreger said. “I can tell you Kevin Cheveldayoff of the Winnipeg Jets are loath to consider giving up either one of these guys.
“Particularly Jacob Trouba, but Tyler Mylers has been a big part of the Winnipeg Jets since he was acquired by the Buffalo Sabres.”
This is, all around, a complicated situation for the Jets. Trading a right-handed shooting defenseman for Hamonic seems a bit gratuitous anyway, and this all takes place within the context of ongoing contract negotiations with key unrestricted players like Byfuglien and captain Andrew Ladd, and crucial restricted players like Mark Schiefele and Jacob Trouba.
We’d also be wise to consider the financial concerns. Myers’ odd contract was heavily backloaded, and while he carries a $5.5 million cap hit through 2019, Myers will cost the Jets less than $4 million a year on average in actual salary over the remaining life os his contract. Hamonic is signed for a bit longer, but his deal is the opposite, he’s owed nearly a million more in salary on average than his $3.875 million cap hit would imply.
For an internal budget team like the Jets, Myers’ contract is the better fit. In fact, for a club with a developing, high-end core of young players, Myers’ deal and particularly the last two seasons of that deal (Myers will earn $3.5 million in 2018 and $3 million in 2019) is a uniquely good fit. It’s the sort of deal that will help True North to spend to the cap in two seasons in which the Jets might realistically be contenders.
Does the superior relative benefit of Myers’ deal for WInnipeg outweigh the extent to which Hamonic is the superior player? Our fearless leader Garret Hohl doesn’t think so:
Myers has been the superior goal scorer and shot suppressor, although the former may inflate Myers value and work in the Jets favor. While his overall impact is worse, he is still a regular NHL player.
In addition, Myers’ salary falls well below his Cap Hit for the remaining duration of his contract, while Hamonic’s actually rises above. As budget teams, both the Islanders and the Jets likely prefer Myers contract, even with the one less year of team.
If Kevin Cheveldayoff is to make a bold move, Chevy could do far worse than offering a package centred around Myers to gain an upgrade on the back end with Hamonic.
Even so, for a variety of reasons, a potential Hamonic trade will be a complicated spot of business for Winnipeg. And without one of Trouba or Myers in the trade, it’s surely not happening.