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De Haan Arrives in Raleigh

Canes defenseman makes first visit to new town

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Calvin de Haan has a simple, stated goal: help the Carolina Hurricanes win and return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He said it after signing with the team on July 3, and he reiterated it in Raleigh on Tuesday morning.

"I like the direction the team is going. The Hurricanes, over the past few years and during my time in the NHL, I think they've underachieved," he said. "I want to be part of the solution to get this team into the playoffs."

The first tangible steps toward achieving that goal will be taken in mid-September, when training camp signals the launch of the 2018-19 campaign.

Until then, de Haan has another, more immediate goal that he aims to accomplish this week: finding a place to live.

"It's peaceful. No traffic is nice," he said when asked about his first impressions of Raleigh. "I've been here before with the Isles, and from everyone I know who's been to Raleigh before and visited the town says nothing but good things about it. I'm pretty excited."

In addition to house hunting during his 48 hours in Raleigh, de Haan hopes to get a feel for the town, as well. That likely means discovering a local brewery or two, as de Haan is a partner in the soon-to-open Ridge Rock Brewing Co. in Carp, Ontario.

"My tour guide, Mike, is going to take us to a few [breweries] at some point, I'm sure," de Haan said with a smile.

The Hurricanes made a free agent splash when they inked de Haan to a four-year, $18.2 million contract in early July, and the left-shooting defenseman figures to be a key piece on what's already regarded as one of the league's most stalwart blue lines.

"I just want to do my best to help this team win," de Haan said. "I think I can play some reliable minutes on the back-end. I like to think I slot into the top four on the left side. Steady. I'm not the flashiest guy out there, but I always work my tail off. I hate getting scored on. That's obviously important when you play defense."

De Haan has totaled 81 points (12g, 69a) in 304 career NHL games with the Islanders, and in the last four seasons, the 27-year-old defenseman has recorded 583 blocked shots, which ranks him in the top 20 of all NHL skaters. Since the 2013-14 season, de Haan ranks tied for second in the league (among skaters who have played at least 100 games) with an average of 2.3 blocked shots per game.

"I've always kind of just done it. There are times where it does suck - when you have to stand in front of one-timers, that doesn't feel good. But other than that, you can make a key play in a game like that," he said. "It can boost your team and upheave the bench a little bit. When other guys do it, as well, I know they're putting their body on the line to try to win the game."

Video: Calvin de Haan Meets with the Raleigh Media

The signing of de Haan brought balance to the Hurricanes' defensive corps, which had a gap on the left side after the departure of Noah Hanifin. With de Haan playing his natural left side, he could potentially form a defensive pair with a right-shooter like Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce or Justin Faulk.

"It's going to make my job a lot easier to give the puck to guys like that," de Haan said. "The experts are saying we have a great blue line, and I don't think they're wrong. I know playing against the Hurricanes for the past few years, it's pretty stingy back there. It's not easy to enter that offensive zone."

In the weeks since he put ink to paper, de Haan said a few of his new teammates have reached out - "did the old, 'Hey, how's it going?' text" - in addition to head coach Rod Brind'Amour.

"I spoke to him on the day I signed for about 30-45 minutes," de Haan said. "We didn't really talk about hockey, to be honest. Just chatting about life, Raleigh, a little bit about the team and the direction the Hurricanes are moving in."

Of the hockey they did talk, de Haan is certain he can fit seamlessly to Brind'Amour's system.

"He wants to move the puck and get the puck out of our end," he said. "It's a pretty simple philosophy. Just get on the offense as fast as you can, move pucks and try to join up in the play, as well. I like to think I'm a good skater, and I want to be the fourth guy on the attack."

De Haan's ultimate goal is simple, and he's confident it's one the team can achieve in the upcoming season.

"I want to help this team win. We want to get back into the playoffs," he said. "There's a lot of good, young talent here. I don't see why this team can't make it into the playoffs."

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