Calvin de Haan: A Bright Spot on the Blue Line

Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan has concluded the most successful season of his career and was rewarded.

Although the Islanders fell just short of a playoff appearance at the end of last season, there has been an impressive showing on the blue line in de Haan, who has become a valuable piece of the Islanders’ success.

Most recently, the 26-year-old took home a silver medal at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships while manning the blue line for Team Canada.

Despite only notching one assist in 10 games, the Carp native was called upon by Team Canada coaches to be out on the ice when they needed it the most. This included the final minute of overtime during the gold medal game against Team Sweden.

Now, after extending his offseason, de Haan, for whom the Islanders traded up twice to select during the 2009 NHL Draft, will be in the midst of free agency this summer.

de Haan Dominates With Career-Highs

There has been much talk about de Haan being picked up in the expansion draft to play for the Vegas Golden Knights and trade rumors have been swirling. With the expansion draft, all NHL teams will forfeit one player. His three-year contract will expire on July 1, and after a stellar season, he would be an asset to many teams.

de Haan still recorded a career year with the Islanders this past season, tallying 25 points (five goals, 20 assists) and did not miss a game. Up until last season, de Haan has never played in each and every game and was the only Islanders’ defenseman to play in all 82 contests, proving his durability. Last season, he laced up the skates for 72 games and contributed 16 points. De Haan unleashed a personal-best 116 shots throughout the 2016-17 season, and his offensive game greatly helped the Islanders, thus showing he could be the offensive defensemen many expected him to be.

Throughout the whole league, de Haan ranked 66th offensively amongst defensemen.

On the defensive side of the puck, de Haan proved he is an asset with a plus-15 plus-minus rating. In addition to being a force at even-strength, de Haan earned minutes on both the power-play and penalty-kill units this past season as well, and was the quiet hero of the Islanders’ blue line. He is a critical part of the penalty kill. After Nick Leddy, he played the most minutes for the Isles in all situations on the ice.

Calvin de Haan (Credit – Dustin Hall)

The fourth-year pro was selected as the 12th pick in the first round during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The start of his professional career was a bumpy path as shoulder surgery halted him to a mere 34 games in 2009-10 with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. De Haan rebounded and was named captain the following season, finishing with 48 points. He has been proven to come back stronger through adversity and shoulder injuries.

He lacks a deeply intense physical game, but he certainly gets the job done. de Haan is always willing to take one for the team, and despite being flashy, sometimes a blocked shot speaks louder than a point. Sacrificing the body to prevent a goal from the opposition is as tough as it comes. de Haan ranked fourth in the entire league with 190 blocked shots last season and still remained injury-free, another significant milestone.

The Future for de Haan

Fellow Islanders defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was named best defenseman at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and re-signed with a one-year, $1.25 million deal in the early stages of the offseason.

Dennis Seidenberg (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Re-signing de Haan would be incredibly beneficial to general manager Garth Snow and the Islanders’ organization. After a player produces career-high numbers, it can only be a plus to keep him around and have him accomplish bigger things the following year. He should be rewarded. But is that a risk the management is willing to take? Despite personal-best numbers and being a restricted free agent, it is still questionable whether that may be enough to lock him into the Islanders’ protected list. If the Islanders choose to go the other way, it would leave room to protect other players, but that is a decision Snow will have to make.

Under-the-radar defensemen have made a name for themselves throughout the season and even into the playoffs. Ian Cole of the Pittsburgh Penguins is the most comparable to de Haan. Cole was also a former first-round pick who has started to live up to his draft status. The 28-year-old defenseman notched a career-high five goals and 21 assists during the regular season, Now, Cole is shining in the playoffs as the Penguins look to return to their second straight Stanley Cup Final.

de Haan was able to get a taste of the playoffs both in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Keeping a now-veteran defenseman around can only be a positive, and as the cliche goes, defense truly does win championships. Without de Haan, the Islanders would not have finished nearly as close to clinching a playoff berth as they did.