After signing a one-year deal with the New York Islanders on Wednesday, Calvin de Haan can now focus his full efforts on the 2017-18 season.
"It's a nice relief, I'm excited to be coming back," de Haan said on Wednesday afternoon. "It was nice to get the deal done before [arbitration]."
De Haan set highs in goals (5), assists (20), points (25) and games played (82) last season, emerging as a steady, minutes-crunching defenseman for the Islanders. He earns his money the hard way as the team's top shot blocker, sacrificing his body 190 times last season - fourth most in the NHL.
"I felt good," de Haan said about his play last season. "There's always room to improve. I had career numbers and I'm just looking to build off that and go from there. Do what I do best, not try to do much and play my game."
The 26-year-old has seen his numbers improve in each of the last three seasons and has played at least 72 games in each of the past two. Only Nick Leddy (162 games) has played more games among Isles defensemen over that span.
While he's been working out and enjoying his summer back in Ontario - save for a winning a silver medal with Team Canada at IIHF Worlds in May - de Haan has kept an eye on the Islanders' offseason moves.
Two moves that have stood out are acquiring Jordan Eberle - whom de Haan played with in the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship - and naming Doug Weight the team's head coach.
"He's obviously a very talented player and will mesh with the guys for sure," de Haan said of Eberle. "I'm sure he's excited for the opportunity. To get a guy like that who has a good pedigree… it's an asset to have that's for sure."
Video: CAR@NYI: de Haan beats Ward with sizzling wrister
As for Weight, de Haan said he enjoyed playing in his system in the second half of the season and that the team's 24-12-4 record - the NHL's second-best record from Jan. 19 onwards - showed the potential of the group and has de Haan excited.
"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."