Andy Graziano and I have begun our annual season review, taking a look back at the 2016-17 Islanders and analyzing each player's performance in a down season that saw the team miss the playoffs by one point.
We will be offering two reviews per week that will take us right through to the beginning of training camp in September. Of course, there are a couple of things to sort out prior, such as free agency and potential trades that could alter the look of this franchise going forward.
44 - Calvin de Haan - Defenseman
6 foot 1, 197 pounds
26 years old
Contract: Restricted free agent
Season: 82 GP, 5 G - 20 A - 25 Pts, 36 PIM, 116 Shots, 19:51 TOI, 45.1 Corsi
Career: 271 GP, 11 G - 58 A - 69 Pts, 110 PIM, 383 Shots, 20:03 TOI, 47.7 Corsi
There's nothing but praise to be said when it comes to de Haan's breakout campaign. Not only did the former first-round pick turn into the steadiest hand the Isles had on the blue line last season, he made it possible for Garth Snow to deal from a position of strength at the Draft and nab some future assets that could help this team improve even more.
De Haan has always had the talent to be a top-four defenseman, but even after a healthy sampling of NHL play, he still seemed a little timid with the puck. I remember being at his NHL debut, and I could see he had come a long way from that point, but probably not enough to crack the top two pairings -- at least not until this past season.
The presence de Haan played with in his own zone was completely different. He looked more composed and made much better decisions when moving the puck out of the zone. His Shots Through Percentage, which had ticked up to 47.9 percent in 2015-16, dropped to 46 percent this season, which is impressive when you consider the Isles' poor possession metrics led to de Haan seeing 39 more shots attempted while he was on the ice.
Combine that improvement in his own zone with career highs in goals, assists, pints, and plus-minus (plus-15, which I don't give a lot of credence to, but consider New York's brutal start, a defenseman coming in at a positive on this team says something), and you have the performance that made Garth comfortable enough to deal Travis Hamonic at his peak trade value.
IPB Grade: A: This was, by far and away, de Haan's best season of his young career. And while he still needs a contract, I think there's little double that will get done. Without Hamonic in the fold, de Haan will play a major role on the Islanders' blue line this season. And who knows what Garth does with those assets he received in the Calgary deal. If they're flipped for a second-line center, de Haan's big 2016-17 may have been one of the biggest factors in turning the Isles into a viable championship contender.