Calvin de Haan Improves an Already Stout Hurricanes ‘D’

The Carolina Hurricanes announced Tuesday that the team has signed defenseman Calvin de Haan to a four-year, $18.2 million deal. Based on his career so far in the NHL, it can be said that he improves an already stout Hurricanes defense. The addition of Dougie Hamilton was already a strong improvement on the blue line, adding de Haan is a very strong improvement.

Calvin De Haan
Calvin De Haan  (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

de Haan In Review

For the four-plus seasons that de Haan has been in the NHL, he has played for the New York Islanders. He was drafted 12th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The 27-year-old Carp, Ontario native has progressed in his development, however, he was sidelined last season with a shoulder injury, only playing in 33 games.

The general manager Don Waddell said in the Hurricanes’ press release:

Calvin is a solid puck-moving defenseman who will bring a veteran presence to the blue line. He is a strong two-way player who is capable of shutting down opponents’ top lines, and he will help solidify the left side and upgrade our defense.

There is no question that the team feels de Haan is the real deal given his four-year deal. His career was also summarized in the Hurricanes’ announcement:

“De Haan, 27, recorded 12 points (1g, 11a) in 33 games with the NY Islanders last season prior to missing the final 49 games of the season due to a shoulder injury. The 6’1”, 198-pound defenseman set career highs in points (25), goals (5), assists (20) and games played (82) during the 2016-17 season and ranked fourth in the NHL in blocked shots (190).

Also, since the 2013-14 season, de Haan leads Islanders defensemen in blocked shots (687), ranks second in plus/minus (25) and third in games played (303). In addition, he is tied for second in the NHL in blocked shots per game (2.3) since 2013-14 (min. 100 GP). The picture comes into focus of a young player growing into his craft, only to be sidelined by injury at an inopportune time.

What stands out, in particular, are de Haan’s plus/minus numbers. He was plus-11 last season and plus-15 in 2016-17. His positive numbers over the past four seasons indicate that he is playing his position well and he is unlikely to take unnecessary chances that would put an already fragile goaltending tandem in a precarious position.

The elephant in the room is whether he can come back 100 percent and continue the upward trajectory of his career. De Haan said: “My shoulder feels great. I had the surgery in January, and I’ve been skating for two months, playing golf, doing all the normal human being things. I feel really good.” Waddell and the ‘Canes made an $18.2 million wager that the answer will be an unquestionable yes.

De Haan and a Good, Young Blue Line

De Haan is joining a blue line that consists of Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Haydn Fleury and last year’s team co-captain and three-time All-Star, Justin Faulk. (Van Riemsdyk was signed Thursday to a two-year, $4.6 million contract.)

That’s not a bad group of defensemen that new Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour has in the stable. In fact, de Haan said in a conference call with the media:”I get to play with one of the best young blue lines in the NHL. That to me is very important.” That young, stout blue line is one of the compelling reasons de Haan made the decision to join the club.

Making the playoffs is another reason he gave for wanting to be part of the Hurricanes. He also said: “I feel like I can step in and help this team win. I’m aware that the Carolina Hurricanes haven’t made the playoffs in the past nine years. To be honest, I really want to be a part of the solution here…I feel like I can help this team win.”

De Haan said he feels that the good, young solid defensive corps can be one of the best in the NHL. Greg Wyshynski of ESPN rated the move by the Hurricanes a B-: “I’m not going A-minus here because, frankly, it’s a move that sets up another one or two that will address the Canes’ other needs. So, the quality of the signing is somewhat linked to that. I’m also a little worried about de Haan’s durability. But the potential is there for us to look back at this signing as a major building block towards Carolina becoming a championship contender.”

Wyshynski makes a valid point. Between the defensive players under contract and those in the system, the Hurricanes’ defensive cupboard is pretty full. Andrew Forbes of The Hockey Writers noted when the deal was announced: “While the acquisition of de Haan gives the Hurricanes six defensemen signed to contracts for the upcoming season – five of whom are due $4.025 million or more – it does open up the possibility that the team could look to move Justin Faulk and his $4.83-million contract.”

With van Riemsdyk’s signing on Thursday, moving Faulk seems like a foregone conclusion. Waddell said during the de Haan conference call with the media that there’s no sense of urgency at the moment to do something. But few would be surprised if a deal to move Faulk was announced very soon.

It’s a new day for the Hurricanes. A stout defense was improved on with de Haan. The management team has been busy, which in itself is new for the team. Moving Faulk is likely and if Waddell can pull off moving him for a legitimate scoring forward, the offseason will have gone exponentially better than anyone expected.