The Hurricanes continue to revamp an already-strong defensive group, the most recent addition being veteran defensive defenseman Calvin de Haan, who was signed to a professional tryout contract today. The Hurricanes have made more significant moves than de Haan this offseason, most notably Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty, but signing de Haan will add competition in training camp at the very least. At most, de Haan will be an experienced, defensively responsible boost as a lower-pair defenseman.
After falling short in last year’s second-round series against the New York Rangers in seven
games, the Canes have added offense through both of the aforementioned moves. Pacioretty,
along with Dylan Coghlan, was acquired from cap-crunched Vegas for future considerations. To
go along with six 30-goal seasons, Pacioretty had 37 points in 39 games while battling injuries
that led to him missing significant time. Burns, who was also acquired for next to nothing, put up 44 assists and 54 points in 82 games with the Sharks last season. The Canes lacked defensive
scoring outside of Jaccob Slavin (42 points) and Tony DeAngelo (51 points) last season, and
with DeAngelo now in Philadelphia, Burns’ offensive capabilities will become incredibly
valuable during the regular season but more importantly, the playoffs.
In this day and age, championship teams need defensemen who can also contribute offensively.
Look no further than this year’s Norris and Conn Smythe trophy winner, Cale Makar, who tallied
29 points in 20 playoff games. That’s not to say Burns, Slavin, and the rest of the defense need to be the focal points of all offensive production, but they absolutely must be a factor. Again, Slavin and DeAngelo, who tallied 8 and 10 points, carried their weight, but the bottom four defenseman (Ian Cole, Brady Skjei, Brett Pesce, and Brendan Smith) combined only were able to muster 6. Adding Burns and his 62 playoff points in 94 games will help the situation.
If the offense is to be improved upon, the defense is to stay the same. The Hurricanes ranked
near the top of the league in most defensive metrics, including leading the league in shots against per game (28.17) and in goals against per game (2.44), according to covers.com. Frederik
Andersen will also be a difference-maker in net, as he was performing at a Vezina level before
going down with a knee injury.
De Haan will face stiff competition for a roster spot in camp. Burns, Slavin, Skjei, and Pesce
appear to have the top four spots locked down, so de Haan, Ethan Bear, Coghlan, and Jake
Gardiner will compete for presumably three roster spots. It’ll be interesting to see if de Haan,
now in his second stint with the Hurricanes, will be able to prove he still has value defensively.
He could fit well with an offensive-minded defenseman, as he paired with Seth Jones on the
Blackhawks frequently last year. With all the offensive additions this offseason, perhaps a
defensive-minded player is what the Canes need to enjoy another strong season defensively.