On June 26, 2009, while the buzz for the selection of John Tavares was still at a fever pitch, Garth Snow and the Islanders used their extra picks (thanks, Chris Campoli!) to move up in the first round ... and then move up again. That they selected Calvin de Haan was not a surprise. That they moved up not just from 26 to 16, but also again to 12 to get him was.
Some pre-draft lists had de Haan in the 20s, some had him at 20 and some in the mid-teens. Lots of intrigue will surround that day for many years -- were they trying to move up for someone else? -- especially as Dmitry Kulikov (14th overall, already 145 NHL games) is joined in the NHL by David Rundblad (17th) and Tim Erixon (23rd) this season and Ryan Ellis (taken one spot before de Haan) and de Haan some time soon.
Smaller in frame on his draft day, de Haan has grown and put on muscle in the intervening years. He's suffered a couple shoulder injuries but continued to play well for his junior club and Team Canada. This season is the next step, his pro debut at Bridgeport. In our pre-training camp poll he ranked 10th in our Islanders Top 25 Under 25. Where he ranks this time next year and the year after will do much to tell us how we feel about the second story on that day in 2009.
De Haan was drafted first for his skating, puck moving and good first pass sensibility. In a league that was (and still is) valuing puck possession and quick movement, de Haan fit a need. What's interesting is the timeline for his maturation coincides roughly with when current captain and best offensive defenseman Mark Streit's contract will expire.
Was Streit the free agent splurge to fill a void, and de Haan his intended successor? Best laid plans. But I'm sure no one would mind seeing a powerplay manned by the two of them together.
How We Voted
|Top 25 Under 25||mikb||M11||CIL||Dom||KQ||Web/Mark
For this first edition, we polled LHH authors Keith, WebBard (Mark D), mikb, myself, and two particularly prospect-focused LHH regulars, CanadianIslesLifer and MatthewM11. We wanted enough to get a decent number of voters but not so much that we make the first run unwieldy. It is absolutely unscientific but with varied enough votes to get us thinking.
De Haan is unquestionably a good puck distributor and almost effortless skater. His mobility and vision will make him an NHLer. Reportedly his gap control has improved, making his defensive intelligence more NHL-worthy. The injuries raise a durability flag, and the lack of physicality means his defensive intelligence will have to compensate for the possibility he won't be a guy who can move people from the front of the net with authority.
How the last question turns out probably determines whether he becomes a really nice offensive defenseman or a very good defenseman, period. On our panel I was one of the harder voters on him, but I can't wait to find out what he'll become.
Previous Posts in This Top 25 Islanders Under 25 Series
- Those who didn't make the Top 25
- #25: Anton Klementyev, D
- #24: Not to be Pedantic, but is it Andrei or Andrey Pedan, D
- #23: Mark Katic (D) shoulders the burden
#22: Rhett Rakhshani (W)
- #21: Matt Martin (LW), budding 'stache
- #20: Johan Sundström, C
- #19: David Ullström, C/W
- #18: Scott Mayfield, D
- #17: Kirill "A" Petrov, W
- #16: Feisty Casey Cizikas, C
- #15: Towering Anders Nilsson, G
- #14: Roloson Reward Ty Wishart, D
- #13: Okalhoman Matt Donovan, D
- #12: Brock Nelson, C/LW/Reverend
- #11: Kirill Kabanov is a Thing to Say, W
The Top 25 under 25 is an idea conceived (I think) by Oilers blog Copper & Blue and copied elsewhere, incorporated here by popular demand. We cut it off at players who were under 25 going into this season, so Andrew MacDonald, having just turned 25 this month, barely misses eligibility.