Travis Hamonic will miss the remainder of the regular season with a lower-body injury, head coach Jack Capuano announced on Friday morning.
Hamonic suffered the injury in the first period of Thursday night’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, colliding with Scott Hartnell in the Islanders’ end.
“It’s going to keep him out for an extended period of time,” Capuano said. “We know he’s not going to play the remainder of the regular season, but hopefully we’ll have a better idea at some point moving forward.”
Capuano said Hamonic will be re-evaluated at the end of the regular season. If he can’t go in the playoffs, it’ll be a big blow to the Islanders’ back end, as the team is 24-6-6 when Hamonic leads the team in ice time.
“Hopefully he’ll be back by playoffs,” Johnny Boychuk said. “He’s a good player and we need him. He plays a lot of minutes, he’s good defensively and skates the puck well. Hopefully he gets his rest and he heals quickly.”
Unfortunately for Hamonic, this isn’t a new situation. Last year, the defenseman sprained his left MCL in the second-to-last game of the regular season and missed the Islanders’ first-round series against the Washington Capitals.
“It’s always tough, you know how much he wants to be a part of the stretch here and trying to get into the playoffs,” John Tavares said. “We obviously hope he’ll be back soon. Everyone just has to step up and fill the void. It’s hard to replace a guy like him, but certainly we have guys that are very capable of playing more minutes and expanding their role.”
Hamonic is the second Islander to suffer a regular-season ending injury this month. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak was injured in the Islanders’ 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 9 and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. He is currently three weeks into his recovery. Mikhail Grabovski has also been sidelined since March 15 and the timetable on his return is unclear.
Capuano said he’s proud of the resiliency of his group, which has won four of its last five games, despite playing somewhat shorthanded.
“We’re battling and playing with the injuries that we have,” said Capuano. “Unfortunately it’s a tough time of year to lose keys guys. Halak, Hamonic, Grabovski, the list goes on. We just have to battle through it, guys are going to get some more minutes and put into situations they aren’t used to. Fortunately [Ryan] Pulock and [Marek] Zidlicky are there for us now.”
Zidlicky hasn’t played since March 6, his only game since Feb. 25, but will take Hamonic’s roster spot on Saturday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Right now, Zidlicky will probably go in,” Capuano said. “He’s in real good condition, he’s been skating. Obviously it’s tough coming back in against a team like Pittsburgh, but he’s an experienced guy and that’s the decision we made as a staff to play our experienced here in these games because they’ve been in these situations before. Zidlicky has been in plenty of these games.”