VANCOUVER — Travis Hamonic won’t start the season with the Vancouver Canucks but general manager Jim Benning said he expects the defenseman to join the team after reporting to their American Hockey League affiliate in Abbotsford after clearing waivers on Monday.
Hamonic missed training camp and the preseason for personal reasons. He was placed on waivers Sunday in order to send him to the AHL and create room on the roster ahead of a season-opening six-game road trip that starts Wednesday at the Edmonton Oilers.
“It just buys us more time, we save money on the cap, and we get a roster spot to get through the trip,” Benning said. “He’s still working through some personal matters and we’re going to loan him to Abbotsford and once he has the personal matters cleared up and he comes in and he can start skating with them and be ready to join the team when we get back.”
Hamonic scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 38 games last season, his first with the Canucks, and signed a two-year contract with an average annual value of $3 million July 28. The 31-year-old has scored 198 points (40 goals, 158 assists) in 675 NHL games, and was expected to play with Quinn Hughes and kill penalties this season.
“He’s a top-four defenseman and we’re going to miss him,” Benning said. “I don’t know yet when he’s for sure coming in, so it’s going to take some time for him to skate and be ready.”
Benning also isn’t sure if forward Brock Boeser will be ready to start the season because of an undisclosed injury.
Boeser, who led the Canucks in goals (23) and points (49) in 56 games last season, resumed skating on his own but hasn’t practiced with the team since Sept. 29.
“Brock’s day to day and we’ll find out more here this next couple days as to if he’s going to be able to start the season out or not,” Benning said.
Brandon Sutter won’t be ready to start the season because of lingering effects from having COVID-19 last season. Sutter was one of 22 players and four staff members from the Canucks that tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing an 18-day pause through April 18.
Sutter signed a one-year contract on July 28 for $1.125 million after scoring 12 points (9-3-12) in 43 games last season. He wasn’t at training camp because of fatigue.
“He’s experiencing some of the symptoms from the COVID; I guess they call it being a long hauler,” Benning said. “He’s going to be out for a while. He’s not going to be back anytime soon, so once he feels 100 percent better, then we’ll get him back up skating and get him in shape and then he’ll start playing. There’s no timeline.”