The Carolina Hurricanes are building what could be one heck of a defense.
After acquiring Dougie Hamilton from the Calgary Flames earlier this offseason in a blockbuster trade, the Hurricanes dipped into the free agent market on Tuesday night by signing former New York Islanders blue liner Calvin de Haan to a four-year contract that will pay him $18.2 million. That comes out to a salary cap number of $4.55 million per season.
The 27-year-old de Haan was limited to just 33 games for the Islanders during the 2017-18 season but has proven to be a strong defensive player throughout his career when healthy.
“Calvin is a solid, puck-moving defenseman who will bring a veteran presence to the blue line,” said Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell in a statement released by the team. “He is a strong two-way player who is capable of shutting down opponents’ top lines, and he will help solidify the left side and upgrade our defense.”
[Related: Six NHL teams that improved the most this summer (so far)]
This creates a couple of questions for where the Hurricanes go from here.
Does the addition of de Haan, along with the recent trade for Hamilton, increase the odds that Justin Faulk gets traded at some point this summer for additional offensive help?
Or do the Hurricanes keep Faulk and go forward with a defense that, on paper, looks to be incredibly strong and could be one of the best in the NHL?
Hamilton, Faulk, de Haan, Jaccob Slavin, and Brett Pesce has the makings of a tremendous blue line for both the short-and long-term, as de Haan is the oldest player in that group while all of them are signed for at least the next two years.
For as much as the Hurricanes struggled last season in goal prevention they were once again one of the best shot suppression teams in the league, allowing just 28.9 shots on goal per game, the lowest total in the league. During 5-on-5 play they allowed just 52.2 total shot attempts per 60 minutes. That was the second-lowest mark in the league, behind only the Boston Bruins.
The issue, as it has always been, was in net where Scott Darling and Cam Ward were unable to give them consistent play.
The Hurricanes allowed Ward to leave in free agency this summer (he signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks) and took a flier on former Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers goalie Petr Mrazek. They also have a pretty big investment in Darling and have to be hoping that he is able to bounce back from a disappointing debut season with the team. With better goaltending there is a lot to like about this team. But it seems like we say this every single year about the Hurricanes. At some point it would be nice to see it actually happen.
Meanwhile, de Haan’s signing in Carolina continues what has just been a brutal week for the New York Islanders as they lost him and John Tavares, while accumulating a collection of fourth liners.
Related: Hurricanes get Dougie Hamilton from Calgary Flames
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.