This week Unsung Heroes pulls another body out of the Atlantic Division to fill its ranks. This particular player is a serious unknown for many reasons, a big one being the team he plays for, and another being his position. No matter the circumstances, though, Travis Hamonic is certainly a name you don’t see or hear among the highlights.
The big-bodied defenseman was grown straight out of the Isles’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and arrived on the Island as a call-up after multiple injuries to the big club’s blueline. He ended up playing 62 games and scoring 26 points, using his size and his strength to his advantage. He also earned a bit of a reputation as a fighter, though he’s relatively disciplined next to, say, Matt Martin.
In 2011-12, Hamonic only got better, this time as the workhorse and a top-four, defensive D-man. His average TOI was just under 20 minutes per game, and on a blueline with a combined plus-minus of -96, Hamonic’s was the lone positive average (+6). Despite only scoring two goals, he can move the puck up the ice with ease and power. He even battled back from a nasty-looking accident against the Sabres in which he took the brunt of a Christian Ehrhoff slapper to his nose, and played part of the season with a face shield. Kid is tough.
Unfortunately, Hamonic is also the target of a lot of whistles, even when he doesn’t do anything wrong. The abundance of phantom calls thrown his way has no doubt earned him inflated numbers (even though he still garnered only 73 PIM last year). Hopefully in the future, he’ll be cut a little bit more slack. Still, when not being shown to the penalty box, he’s made a tremendous impact on the Islanders roster and quickly turned into a favorite with fans.
Off of the ice, Hamonic is a Roman Catholic who is “proud of his faith,” according to his Twitter bio. He is good friends with Martin, and he spends an ample amount of time in the community, stopping by youth hockey clinics to work with the kids who might aspire to be like him one day. Overall, he’s pretty quiet and level-headed, which is impressive for a 22-year-old hockey player with a bit of money to burn.
Hamonic will be an RFA after this season ends, and even if he ends up not playing a game, he’ll have proven enough to convince the Isles to extend a qualifying offer to him. In the meantime he’s down in Bridgeport gearing up to start the AHL preseason, and he’ll certainly make the Sound Tigers happy (and better). Best of luck to him, and if you guys are jonesing for some hockey, check out the Tigers! If nothing else, it might prove to you why Hamonic is an unsung hero in the NHL.