The one-year deal the Islanders and Calvin de Haan signed just before the arbitration clock rang is either a bargain deal for a solid defender or it’s placing an eventual, unnecessary break-up into suspended animation for about 10 months. It all depends on how high your confidence level is in the team in the dead of summer with two months to go before training camp.
After an interview on TSN Radio this afternoon (compiled at NHL.com by writer Jon Lane), it’s pretty clear where de Haan’s confidence level is in his teammates both new and old.
"We missed the playoffs last year, which [stunk]," de Haan said. "We were right there but it's something we try not to dwell on. We have a good team and we want to build on that and go from there, and hopefully do some damage in the playoffs. It's going to be a good team to play for and I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a good time.
"We're not a pushover. We're going to fight, scratch and claw our way to get to the postseason."
Hell yeah, Carp Lad. I’d like to subscribe to your newsletter (but then again, I already do).
The 26-year-old also looks forward to playing more under coach Doug Weight, who led the Islanders to a 24-12-4 record after taking over from Jack Capuano in January.
"The record speaks for itself under Doug for that last half of the season," de Haan said. "We were one of the best teams in the League. It was a lot of fun playing for him. I hope we can carry on that chemistry and that winning mentality into the season."
Other topics included the addition of Jordan Eberle (“He's been productive in his career so far and hopefully he can continue with us."), the future of young defenseman Ryan Pulock (“I think the plan is for him to hopefully step into a prominent role with this team”), and the contract status of John Tavares (“I don't see him leaving, personally”). That last one we added to our ongoing, completely unwieldy Tavares Contract Encyclopedia. Check your computer’s RAM before opening that document to avoid crashes or meltdowns.
But the most interesting mention is that of Pulock, the 22-year-old slapshot artist who’s been knocking on the big club’s door for almost three years now. He nearly made the team out of camp in 2014, played a key role in playoff games in 2016 and spent the last season in Bridgeport after breaking his foot in his lone early season call-up.
This would appear to be the year Pulock finally sticks for a whole season. Or, at least, he better. Because as Dom said in today’s earlier post, de Haan’s one-year $3.3 million deal means he’s setting himself up to get a much longer, more expensive contract next year as a UFA. Maybe that deal comes from the Islanders, maybe it comes from someone else. And if it’s someone else, the Islanders are going to need Pulock (or Adam Pelech or Scott Mayfield or Devon Toews or Sebastian Aho or Parker Wotherspoon or the ghost of Harry Howell) to fill in de Haan’s important role on the blueline.
de Haan seems to understand this, so maybe he can help tutor the young padawan Pulock in the ways of The Force, whether he ends up has his partner or his replacement.
But that’s a question for the future. As for today, hours after signing, de Haan is all in on the season.
Via the team site:
"We all want to improve from last season and carry on what Dougie had in place," de Haan said. "Our record spoke for itself, we were one of the best teams in the league after the coaching change happened. It was a fun team to play for and we had a good run at the end."
"It was kind of gut wrenching to go 6-0 in our last six games and not make the playoffs, but we can try to carry that onto the next season and go from there," de Haan added. "Obviously the ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup and I'm looking forward to the season."