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De Haan ready to win with Hurricanes

New defenseman says Carolina, which has missed playoffs nine straight seasons, 'underachieved'

by Kurt Dusterberg / Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Calvin de Haan wants to win now.

And the 27-year-old defenseman, who signed a four-year, $18.2 million contract ($4.55 million average annual value) with the Carolina Hurricanes on July 3, made it clear Tuesday that he feels they are ready to win despite missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past nine seasons.

"I like the direction the team is going," said de Haan, who played his first five NHL seasons with the New York Islanders. "The Hurricanes, during my time in the NHL, I think they've underachieved. I want to be part of the solution to get this team into the playoffs.

"I'm actually pretty pumped. I'm very excited to be here. This team is good."

The Hurricanes added de Haan and defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who arrived via a trade with the Calgary Flames, to an already solid group that includes Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin and Trevor van Riemsdyk.

"All the experts say this blue line is pretty legit," de Haan said. "Being able to pass the puck to some of these guys is going to make my job and life a lot easier on the ice. That's something that really came into account."

The Hurricanes were 36-35-11 last season, 14 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

"Our team, and Calvin said it, we've gone a long time without making the playoffs, but our team is on the rise," Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said July 3. "Calvin, Dougie Hamilton, these type of players will make us a better hockey club."

Video: De Haan on signing a four-year deal with Carolina

De Haan was limited to 33 games last season because of a shoulder injury sustained Dec. 16. He finished fourth in the NHL with 190 blocked shots in 2016-17. The left-handed shooter, selected by the Islanders in the first round (No. 12) of the 2009 NHL Draft, has 81 points (12 goals, 69 assists) and 687 blocked shots in 304 NHL games.

"I've always just kind of done it, to be honest," he said of blocking shots. "There's times where you've got to stand in front of one-timers. That doesn't feel good. But you can make it a key play in the game and it can boost your team. You see guys doing that, it's a good feeling. It shows they want to get that two points."

De Haan played with Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner at the 2017 IIHF World Championship but otherwise knew no one on Carolina's roster. In the days leading up to the start of free agency July 1, de Haan was generating a lot of interest, but not from the Hurricanes.

"Sometimes it was overwhelming because we did have a ton of teams call," de Haan said. "A lot of teams wanted to see how I was doing with my shoulder. After that, it sort of fizzled out for a while.

"We didn't even think Carolina was going to call. But here I am, a Carolina Hurricane."

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