New York Islanders' Travis Hamonic Must Prove Himself After Returning From Injury
Apr 30, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) works out prior to game two of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After initially requesting to be traded at the beginning of last season, to withdrawing it after the season’s end, the young defenseman has disappointed in 16-17. Now back from injury, Travis Hamonic has to prove his worth to the New York Islanders.

Do or Die

Travis Hamonic is in the midst of another uncharacteristically offseason.

And yes, he isn’t normally playing this brutally. Longtime fans will remember that since his call-up in the 2010-11 season, he was arguably the best defenseman on the New York Islanders roster. These past two years have been very tumultuous for the reliable defender.

After sporting a 15 on the +/- for the 2014-15 season, Hammer’s stats have dipped to a -5 in 15-16 and a -15 this season. Uncharacteristic indeed, to say the least.

To make matters better for him, a knee injury sidelined him from Jan. 1 to Mar. 3, his first game back in nearly two months of inactivity. To his credit, he was a +1 that game and was only a -2 during the disaster in Calgary. Considering the Flames had four goals after the first period, that’s not as bad as it could have been.

But now that he’s back and the Islanders are in the midst of a playoff push, he needs to regain his 14-15 self.

Returning to form

The Islanders need all the help they can get defensively.

The biggest critique of the “new” Islanders under Doug Weight is that their defense is inconsistent. Which is perfectly accentuated if one were to take a look at their road trip thus far.

After surrendering only one goal to the Red Wings, and then shutting out the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens, the Islanders surrendered seven goals to the Jackets, four goals to the Stars and then held the Chicago Blackhawks (of all teams) scoreless with just over a minute left in regulation.

The defense has very much had shades of Jekyll and Hyde, as has the team, but consistency is key and Hammer must find his game for the sake of the Islanders playoff hopes.

As we’ve already seen, Weight has been easing Hamonic back into regular play time. Hamonic’s first game back featured no playing time next to Nick Leddy, a huge step forward in both players’ defensive production as the pair possessed nearly a -30 combined under former head coach Jack Capuano.

The Hammer’s resurgence will be key in helping the Islanders achieve their goal of a playoff spot this season. Whether or not he returns to form in time will have a large impact on the Islanders ability to maintain the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.