Already three times in his young career, de Haan has hit a bump with a shoulder injury. The most recent was earlier this year as he missed a month of action after landing awkwardly during a Sound Tigers game.
"I've hurt it a couple times but at the same time it's motivation to become bigger and stronger," de Haan said on Friday. "[I've] been training, trying to get bigger and stronger. It's kind of cliche I know, but it's an asset for all the players."
De Haan wasn't worried about the shoulder troubling him going into next year.
"[The shoulder] feels fine, it was kind of unfortunate, it was such bad timing. It was right after I got called up. Bad timing, but honestly it feels fine, feels great."
He's going to have to be healthy too, as competition is going to be stiff. There are still a lot of questions to be answered as far as free agency but with the acquisition of Lubomir Visnovsky, the Islanders should have their top four defenders set. Add to that the news that Dylan Reese's contract negotiations are underway, making him likely to be back in the fold and that could leave only one or two spots on the big club for de Haan and his fellow Sound Tiger defenders, Matt Donovan and Aaron Ness. All three saw time with the Islanders last season but de Haan only lasted for one game, December 15th at the Coliseum against Dallas, before getting sent back down.
After three years, de Haan is healthy and hungry to make the team.
"Well, I'd like to think I'll be on the Islanders. That's always been my dream -- to be in the NHL. That's definitely my number one goal. I've been trying for three seasons and hopefully this is the year."
De Haan amassed 16 points in 56 games last year, his first in Bridgeport. He was also elected to the AHL All-Star Game but was unable to compete due to the shoulder injury. De Haan and the rest of the Islanders prospects converge on the Island this week for training and the Blue & White Scrimmage on Thursday night at Iceworks.