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Streit injury gives de Haan a chance with Isles

by Brian Compton
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- He may only be 19 years old, but Calvin de Haan certainly knows the pain Mark Streit is experiencing right now.

A first-round pick (No. 12) by the New York Islanders in 2009, de Haan suffered a shoulder injury similar to the one Streit suffered during a scrimmage at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday morning. The injury limited de Haan to just 34 games for the OHL's Oshawa Generals last season, but he is finally pain free.

Streit, though, likely won't be for quite some time.

"I'd never want to wish an injury upon someone, especially a teammate," de Haan said Monday morning. "I went through it. It (stinks). It's brutal. The first month is awful, actually. You can't do anything. It's such a long rehab. You're very limited the first few months. It's tough. I really feel bad for him."

With Streit out, de Haan has been presented with a golden opportunity. Prior to Saturday, he was probably ticketed for a third junior season. Now, there's a spot up for grabs -- one that involves quarterbacking the Isles' power play. That's right up de Haan's alley, as the Carp, Ontario native had 63 points (8 goals, 55 assists) for Oshawa in 2008-09 and went 5-19-24 in 34 games last season prior to his shoulder injury.

"I feel very comfortable at the top of the umbrella or whatever we're doing," de Haan said. "That's where I like to play the most. They haven't said anything about roles yet, but I think maybe now I'll have more of a power play role. (But) I feel like I've got more of an opportunity now. I still have stuff to prove."

He'll have this week to showcase his abilities to Isles' brass, as the team plays five exhibition games this week beginning with split-squad contests on Wednesday in Philadelphia and Saskatoon. Although there is a vacancy on the Isles' blue line, de Haan insists he won't be placing added pressure on himself.

"I just treat it as another hockey game," de Haan said. "I've played thousands (of them). I've just got to go out and do what I do best. I'm just going to play my game and have fun and take it all in."

Isles coach Scott Gordon liked what he saw in de Haan during his first training camp last year and has been impressed again with the skilled blue liner -- so much so that de Haan was slated to stick around with the club all week even before Streit went down on Saturday.

"We weren't in any rush to send Calvin back," Gordon said. "We'll see what happens with the games here. But the plan was to have all the guys that have been here in camp be here through Saturday and then we'll re-evaluate after that."

Now up to 184 pounds, de Haan is filling into what was a lanky frame when the team traded up twice last year to grab him at No. 12. The defenseman admitted it's helped him during training camp as he goes up against NHL forwards.

"I feel a lot stronger than I did last year," de Haan said. "I feel a lot more comfortable with it being my second training camp. I've put on 10-15 pounds since the draft last year, and it's pretty much muscle. I feel a lot stronger in the corners and I feel like I don't have to work as hard almost to keep up with the guys. It's not as strenuous on my body. I feel a lot fresher." 

It's that confidence that has the Islanders believing they could have something special in de Haan, who was a teammate of New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto for part of the 2008-09 season with the Oshawa Generals. Del Zotto stuck with the Blueshirts last season, as he quarterbacked their power play and tallied 37 points in 80 games. It inspired de Haan, who is eager for his chance -- a chance that may be coming sooner than expected.

"I was his teammate for a half a year," de Haan said of Del Zotto. "Knowing that he can do it, I want to do it, too. That's my goal this year -- to play here. If I'm back in junior, that's fine as well. We'll have a strong team this year. Maybe (I can) lead that team to the playoffs. (But) I want to play here so bad."

One player's misfortune has become another's opportunity. It's all up to de Haan now.

"The bottom line is you have to out-perform somebody," Gordon said. "Now there's one less guy to out-perform."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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