It has been a tumultuous road for New York Islanders prospect Calvin de Haan. Following the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, where Garth Snow traded up and selected the Oshawa Generals defenseman 12th overall, de Haan has suffered a multitude of shoulder injuries that had limited his playing time since the 2009-10 season. Most recently, a season of high expectations with the Islanders AHL affiliate team – the Bridgeport Sound Tigers – ended after three games when a seemingly innocuous play turned into a dislocated shoulder – the same shoulder that hampered him in juniors.
At 22-years-old, de Haan enters his fifth season with the Islanders organization feeling better than he ever has. The 2013-14 season will be his last one of his entry-level contract; in a sense, the 2013-14 season is a “make or break” year for Calvin.
When Snow drafted him in 2009, the smooth defenseman was seen as the power-play quarterback of the future. Now, many fans scoff at the notion. Some have even deemed de Haan as the “most expendable” out of the Islanders current prospects, hoping to salvage “something” for him instead of reliving a Rick-DiPietro-like debacle. At de Haan’s young age, however, I urge the doubters to find a bit of patience because the former first-round pick could be the piece that pushes the Islanders to the next level.
While it has frustrated the fan-base and player alike to watch his development continuously stall from the seemingly inevitable shoulder injuries, we’re quick to forget his accomplishments during his time on the ice.
During the 2008-09 season with the Generals, de Haan was named Oshawa’s top rookie and top defenseman, and was selected to play inthe OHL All-Star Game and the 2009 CHL Top Prospects Game behind an 8-goal, 63-point campaign, also earning the captaincy role with Oshawa for the 2010-11 campaign, and an alternate captaincy role with 2011 Canadian National Junior Team. He has two silver medals to his name.
The 2011-12 season was de Haan’s first as a pro, playing 56 games and scoring 2 goals and 14 assists with the Sound Tigers. Although de Haan missed 20 games due to another shoulder injury during his first pro season, he found his way to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team for the 2012 AHL All-Star Game (he missed it due to injury).
When he plays, he’s a weapon, and a mighty good one at that. It’s the main reason I have actually changed my stance from de Haan detractor to de Haan supporter over the past calendar year.
Sure, we have Matt Donovan and Aaron Ness battling for the same place that de Haan is looking to win out of training camp. I’m also a huge fan of Matt Donovan. None of the Islanders defensive prospects – not Donovan, Ness, Griffn Reinhart, or Ryan Pulock – have the offensive potential that de Haan brings to the table. With the loss of Mark Streit from the Islanders defensive and power-play units, it’s why I, and from the sound of it, Garth Snow – would love to see a healthy de Haan emerge from the pack and make the team by October 4th.
Scott Pellerin, the head coach of the Sound Tigers, describes him as a leader, but he’s that and much more. He’s an offensive machine. He’s a tremendous skater. He’s a power-play quarterback and a dominant puck distributor. He’s a game-breaker. With de Haan on the Islanders blue-line, the defensive schematics on Long Island would change dramatically.