Calvin de Haan
has brought his ‘A’ game to both of the Islanders training camps he’s attended since being selected 12th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. And like most 18-year-olds, size may have been a factor in management’s decision to send the defenseman back to his junior club, the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League, for further development.
However, two years later, he feels more confident in his game, but also that he can physically compete with the pros.
|Calvin de Haan #3 of the New York Islanders plays the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the preseason game at the Prudential Center on October 1, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/AM Photography/Getty Images) |
“My goal is to make the NHL this year,” de Haan said. “I’ve been close the past couple years, but I want to play here this year more than anything.”
From year one to year two, the Carp, Ontario native grew an inch and added 24 pounds of muscle to his frame. And in this last year, he’s added even more size.
“Physically, I’ve grown a lot in the last two years,” said de Haan, who at just 20-years-old, is still growing. “My first camp, I was just a little kid. Now I’m becoming a man. I feel great. I’ve become a more physical player and a two-way defenseman instead of being an offensive guy and a defensive liability.”
While de Haan never completed a season in Oshawa with a negative rating, he felt his defensive game showed room for improvement and worked hard to improve the only statistic that reflects your defensive output, plus-minus ratings. From a plus-three in year one to a plus-five in year two and a plus-13 in year three, de Haan accomplished his goal.
“I took a lot of pride in that,” de Haan said. “If you play a lot of minutes, you don’t want to be on the minus side. I was much better in my own end this year. As a team, we worried about getting the puck out of our own zone and having a good first pass.”
He continued, “I’d still jump in and try to get as many points as I can, but I found this year that the points don’t really matter as much because my plus-minus rating is better. I was playing better in my own end. We won a lot of games because we played sound defensively.”
That solid defensive game helped de Haan lead his Generals teammates to an OHL post-season run, competing for the Robertson Cup.
“We had a good year in Oshawa,” de Haan said. “We went from missing the playoffs (in 2010) to fourth in the conference and losing in the second round (in 2011). That’s pretty good. It was a lot of fun making the playoffs this year. I enjoyed it.”
By training camp, I want to be the strongest I can be. I want to be an animal out there. I want to be physical and strong and be able to move these guys around the ice and in the corners. - Calvin de Haan
de Haan also continued to produce offensively. He was tied for second on the team in regular season assists (42), even though he played 11 fewer games than his teammate Christian Thomas, who ranked first. In 10 playoff games, he led the team in assists (11) and tied for second on the team in scoring with 12 points.
His role as captain this past season also impacted his development in the locker room and off the ice.
“It was a big responsibility, but I think I handled it pretty well,” de Haan said. “Having that responsibility and leadership on the team, I think it made me a better person and a better player.”
While his ultimate goal is to make the Islanders, de Haan knows the franchise has added a lot of depth to their defensive core in the last few seasons and that making the roster will be a major challenge.
So for now, he’ll remain in the weight room, as he tries to gain any extra edge when it comes to tackling his third training camp on Long Island.
“By training camp, I want to be the strongest I can be,” de Haan said. “I want to be an animal out there. I want to be physical and strong and be able to move these guys around the ice and in the corners.”