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Rookie Defenseman Calvin de Haan has followed a rough path to the NHL over the past couple of seasons but is showing promise during his current stint on the Islander blueline. Injuries have slowed his development and hampered his progress, but it appears he might be finally ready to stick with the big club.
The twelfth overall pick in the 2009 entry draft, de Haan is a swift-skating defender with great hockey sense and puck-moving ability. He scored 8 goals and 63 points in his junior rookie season, playing for Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League, and was named to the All-Rookie team. Coincidentally current Islander teammate and 2009 first overall draft selection John Tavares was in his final year at Oshawa that season. Possibly due to the time spent scouting Tavares, the scouts got a good look at de Haan and the Isles traded up in the draft to acquire him. De Haan accumulated totals of 19 goals and 135 points during his 157 game stay with Oshawa, but his second season was marred by a shoulder injury and he was limited to 34 games. It was the beginning of a disturbing pattern that would follow de Haan over the ensuing years.
He started the 2012-13 season with Bridgeport and recorded two assists in three games before another serious shoulder injury ended his season. He returned to Bridgeport for the start of the 2013-14 season and in the early going his play reflected that of his team. He recorded no points for much of his stay with the dismal Sound Tigers, finally tallying a goal and two assists before his recall to Long Island.
Through eight games with the big club de Haan has recorded no points and a minus three with five shots on net, but has impressed the coaching staff with strong positional play. He’s averaging over twenty minutes of ice time per game, which is more than any other defenseman on the team other than Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald. Despite having no points he is noticeable on the ice for doing the little things required of an NHL defenseman. He’s rarely caught out of position, makes a good first pass, and is responsible in his own end. Perhaps most importantly, he’s remained healthy.
It’s an encouraging sign for the Islanders to see one of their brightest prospects successfully stepping into the lineup and performing as well as de Haan has. In a roundabout way the extra time spent in the minors may have helped his long-term development, making him more NHL-ready. The points tend to come once the defensive and positional aspects of the game are solidly in place, which bodes well for de Haan and his spot with the Islanders over the long term. Even with some of the many injured defensemen starting to return it seems likely de Haan may stick with the Islanders for the foreseeable future.