The Carolina Hurricanes’ latest free agent signing, Calvin de Haan, made his first appearance in his new hometown on Tuesday morning.
The 27-year-old defenseman expressed his excitement in adding to what should be a top defensive unit in the league as well as his desire to bring winning hockey back to a Canes team that has the longest playoff drought in the NHL.
“We’ve heard good things about the area,” de Haan said about Raleigh. “It seems like a great place to live. I like the direction that the team’s going. I’ve said this before that the Hurricanes over the past few years and during my time in the NHL I think they’ve underachieved. I want to be part of the solution to get this team into the playoffs.”
De Haan is coming off of a five-year stint with the New York Islanders -- the team he was drafted by in 2009 -- where he established himself as one of the more reliable blueliners in the league.
Limited to just 33 games in his last year with the Islanders because of a shoulder injury, de Haan is known for his steady two-way play, combining 25 points with 190 blocked shots - good for fourth in the league - in the 2016-2017 season.
“I think I can play some reliable minutes on the back end,” de Haan said. “I like to think I slot into the top four as well on the left side. I’m not the flashiest guy out there, I always work my tail off and I hate getting scored on, so that’s obviously important when you play defense.”
De Haan will likely play on one of the top-two defensive pairs for the Hurricanes this season. After adding defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the roster earlier this offseason in a trade with Calgary, the Canes have a bevy of young, talented players on the back end, including Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Justin Faulk and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
Playing as a left defender, de Haan will either slide in opposite the newly acquired Hamilton or either Pesce or Faulk, depending on any future roster changes the front office might make.
“It’s going to make my job a lot easier to give the puck to guys like that,” de Haan said. “All the experts are saying that we have a great blueline, and I don’t think they’re wrong. I know [from] playing against the Hurricanes for the past few years [that] it’s pretty stingy back there. It’s not easy to enter that offensive zone.”
Fresh off of inking a four-year, $18.2 million contract, de Haan is now turning his attention to orienting himself in Raleigh.
A co-owner of Ridge Rock Brewing Co. in Carp, Ontario, he noted that checking out the city’s breweries was on his priority list.
“My tour guide Mike is going to take us to a few at some point, I’m sure,” de Haan said. “Number one priority is to try and find home base for the next few days here, but I’m sure we’ll tour around the city as well.”
Still, de Haan was intent on making one thing clear, and that was his desire to bring postseason hockey back to Raleigh with his work on both sides of the ice.
“I kind of want to isolate myself on that back end as a top-four guy. That’s basically it,” de Haan said. “I want to be out there, block shots, kill penalties and help this team -- I’ve said it a thousand times -- but I want to help this team win to be honest, and we want to get back into the playoffs.
“There’s a lot of good, young talent here, and I don’t see why this team can’t make it into the playoffs.”