The New York Islanders were apparently in the bidding to retain Calvin de Haan until the very end, but the “Carp lad” has instead chosen to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes on a four-year, $18.2 million deal that averages $4.55 million per season, as reported by Luke DeCock of the News & Observer.
I would say this one is on former general manager Garth Snow, as de Haan went the entire season without any hint of contract talks, but in retrospect I think de Haan’s post-season clean out day quotes about John Tavares’ right to test free agency may also reflect how he saw his own situation: Might as well use this rare opportunity, still in your prime, to see what the market will bear. (As for not trading him at the deadline to fetch some return, however...)
Doesn’t mean you’re leaving, but doesn’t mean you have to decide when you only have one option instead of 31. In de Haan’s case, as many as 10 teams were reportedly interested in him this offseason. And a four-year deal means he’ll be able to test free agency again at age 31, likely young enough to get another good contract if health prevails.
In the end, that market bore less than I was expecting: with free agency inflation I figured someone would give him $5 million per season. It sounds like the Islanders were the last team to be ruled out, though it’s not clear if that was a competitive bidding choice or simply de Haan ready to try someplace new.
De Haan has an injury history, including major shoulder surgery that ended his 2017-18 (though he expects to be ready for camp) and in many ways triggered the Islanders’ defensive freefall, but he’s a quietly effective, smart player.
It’s debated quite a bit among Isles fans (what isn’t?), but he’s a “new NHL” kind of defenseman in terms of mobility and puck distribution who only lacks in actual offensive production. With the Isles, he generally elevated his partners.
Calvin De Haan to the Hurricanes for 4 x 4.55. Injuries hurt him last year, but he's a solid defenseman. Likely going to work out to be a good signing. pic.twitter.com/BIdwDnltZs— Peter WIIM - Numbers Surgeon, Analytics Nerd (@pflynnhockey) July 4, 2018
It’s a good signing for the Hurricanes, who are under a new approach with hands-on owner Tom Dundon. It also may mean Justin Faulk, sometimes rumored to be a trade target for the Islanders, will be on the block.
As for his legacy, Islanders fans knew all season de Haan was more than likely on his way out. But it’s still a somber one to see. He was the defenseman Garth Snow aggressively traded up in the draft to acquire at 12th overall in the 2009 draft, after already landing some other guy with the first overall pick.
In retrospect, that aggression was perhaps unnecessary, with other good players falling to spots the Islanders could have selected from while trading up (including Nick Leddy at 16). But it paid off in that they did end up getting a very good defenseman in de Haan.
De Haan finishes with just 304 regular season games in an Islanders uniform, shortened in part by shoulder injuries including one while in the AHL. His 12 goals and 81 points over that span don’t blow you away, but again: Good all-around player.
He will be missed. He’ll need to be replaced. He’ll be fondly greeted by fans when the Hurricanes visit Brooklyn on Saturday, Nov. 24.