RALEIGH — Other than road trips to Raleigh as a member of the New York Islanders, Calvin de Haan is understandably not yet familiar with the place he’ll call home for the next four seasons.
“No. 1 priority is try and find home base for the next few days here, but I’m sure we’ll tour around the city as well and go from there,” the 27-year-old defenseman said when meeting with media Tuesday in-person for the first time as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The visit will also likely include a few fact-finding stops for his side business: de Haan is part of a group opening Ridge Rock Brewing Company in his hometown of Carp, Ontario.
“My tour guide Mike (Sundheim, Hurricanes vice president of communications) is going to take us to a few at some point, I’m sure,” de Haan said.
De Haan was the 12th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft by the Islanders and spent his entire pro career with the organization until he signed a four-year, $18.2 million contract with Carolina as an unrestricted free agent on July 3.
The move brings him to a new city and also a locker room full of new teammates — after signing, de Haan said the only Hurricane he had previously played with was Jeff Skinner at the World Championships for Team Canada.
“A few guys have reached out and did the old, ‘Hey, how’s it going’ text,” de Haan said of his new teammates. “It feels nice to be part of a new team and it’s always nice to feel welcome as well.”
De Haan is joining a rebuilt blueline. Gone are Noah Hanifin and Klas Dahlbeck, and in their place are de Haan and Dougie Hamilton.
“It’s going to make my job a lot easier to give the pucks to guys like that,” the left-handed de Haan said of playing alongside one of Hamilton or Brett Pesce. “The experts are saying that 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 acquiring Hamilton, the Hurricanes added one of the best offensive defensemen in hockey. De Haan, however, was signed to be a stabilizing force in front of goalies Scott Darling and Petr Mrazek.
In 304 career games, he has 12 goals and 69 assists, but he has been a plus player in four of the five seasons he has spent primarily in the NHL. That includes plus-11 in 33 games for the Islanders last season. De Haan’s season ended after 33 games, and Isles went on to allow a league-high 296 goals.
“I think I can play some reliable minutes on the back end,” de Haan said. “I like to think I slot into the top four as well on the left side. Just steady. I’m not the flashiest guy out there. I always work my tail off and I hate getting scored on, so that’s obviously important when you play defense.”
Most importantly, de Haan wants to be a part of getting the Hurricanes — mired in a nine-year playoff drought — back to the postseason.
“I’ve said it a thousand times, but I want to help this team win, to be honest, and we want to get back into the playoffs,” de Haan said. “There’s a lot of good, young talent here, and I don’t see why this team can’t make it into the playoffs.”