Calvin de Haan didn't need anyone to remind him the Carolina Hurricanes haven't made the playoffs in the past nine seasons. It was part of the reason he wanted to play for them.
The retooling of the Carolina Hurricanes' defense took another step Tuesday with the free-agent signing of the 27-year-old de Haan from the New York Islanders to a four-year, $18.2 million contract, all but assuring Justin Faulk will be traded by the end of the offseason.
De Haan, the 12th overall pick in the 2009 draft, spoke with both coach Rod Brind'Amour and owner Tom Dundon over the past few days as the Hurricanes made their sales pitch, and liked what he heard. He also thought of them as "annoying to play against," a strong compliment from an opponent. There was interest from the Islanders and other teams, but de Haan ended up turning down more lucrative offers elsewhere to sign with the Hurricanes.
"I get to play with one of the best young blue lines in the NHL, and that to me is very important," de Haan said. "I feel like I can step in and help this team win. I'm aware the Hurricanes haven't made the playoffs in the past nine years, and I feel like I can be part of the solution here."
De Haan was limited to 33 games by a shoulder injury last season that required surgery but had 12 points in that limited action and has played 304 games in his NHL career.
A 6-foot-1, 196-pound left-sided defenseman who posted top-pairing scoring-generation numbers while playing second-pairing minutes for the Islanders, de Haan completes the rebuilding of the Hurricanes' top two defensive pairings, with Dougie Hamilton arriving last month in a trade from the Calgary Flames to go with the lockdown pairing of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce.
With $19.6 million tied up in those four players in each of the next three seasons – a bargain by NHL standards – the Hurricanes are now in a position where there isn't enough money or playing time to go around for Faulk, who with his history of offensive production and two years left on a reasonable contract that pays him $4.83 million per season should be a valuable asset to the right team.
"I don't feel an urgency to do something," general manager Don Waddell said "Certainly we'll look at all our options."
That leaves restricted free agent Trevor van Riemsdyk with Haydn Fleury on the third pairing. The Hurricanes gave van Riemsdyk a qualifying offer last week to retain his rights but continue to negotiate a long-term contract for the 26-year-old.
The addition of de Haan on the left side to replace the departed Noah Hanifin stabilizes the top two pairings regardless of what happens with Faulk, and the appeal of being part of that group was not lost on de Haan.
"The period leading up to free agency, we received a good amount of calls, we got some offers here and there, but the Hurricanes seemed very intriguing for me," de Haan said. "It seemed like a good fit. At the end of the day it seemed like the right decision to make. You never know, but I'm very intrigued and very happy."