2:20pm: The Canucks have issued a statement, though it doesn’t clear much up:
General Manager Jim Benning announced today that defenseman Travis Hamonic has been placed on a temporary leave of absence. The mutually agreed upon leave of absence will give Travis time as he works through his personal matters. The team asks that media respect Travis’ privacy and the club will not be making any further comments on the matter at this time.
CapFriendly clarifies, explaining that in the case of a leave of absence, his cap hit is entirely removed. With regards to the cap, this functions the same as suspended without pay. Satiar Shah of Sportsnet tweets that the Canucks’ preference is still to have Hamonic join the club this season, whenever he is able.
11:45pm: The Vancouver Canucks placed Travis Hamonic on waivers before the start of the season, after the veteran defenseman failed to appear at training camp because of a personal issue. The team did not expand on what exactly was keeping him away from the team, but decided to assign Hamonic to the minor leagues instead of suspending him. He hasn’t actually joined the Abbotsford Canucks yet, and today CapFriendly reports that Hamonic has now been suspended by the team.
When Vancouver moved him to the minors, it buried $1.125MM from his $3.0MM cap hit, giving them some extra room. He would have still received his salary, however, despite not playing any games to this point. Now he will be suspended without pay and his entire cap hit will come off the books.
The last time Canucks GM Jim Benning spoke directly about the situation, he told reporters that the personal issue was “bigger than what you guys think it is” and that they were helping Hamonic get the help he needed. There has been wild speculation, but it is not confirmed what is keeping him away from the ice. Hamonic was one of the few players to opt-out of the 2020 bubble playoffs but played 38 games for the Canucks last season.
Vancouver is already operating in long-term injured reserve space early this season, with Micheal Ferland, Brandon Sutter, and Brady Keeper all given the designation last week. Even so, they were very tight to the ceiling and wouldn’t have been able to deal with many short-term injuries very easily. Reducing Hamonic’s cap hit to zero allows them to make other recalls if necessary, as CapFriendly now has their unused LTIR relief pool at $1.95MM.