His brother may be four years older — and a couple of inches taller — but if you see a similarity between Sudbury Wolves’ blueliner Evan de Haan and his brother, New York Islanders’ 2009 first-rounder Calvin de Haan, it’s by design.
“Yeah, I’d say we play a similar game,” explained Evan, entering his second full season with the Wolves and eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft. “I see myself as being steady out there, contributing both offensively and defensively.”
And Evan gets regular pointers from his older brother, who was selected in the first round of the 2009 NHL Draft and currently is suiting up for the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
“He always gives me pointers and tips, especially in the summer,” Evan explained. “Working with him, we rent ice, and he always stresses to practice how you play. That’s a big thing to get to the next level.”
de Haan scored two goals and added nine assists in 64 games as a rookie last year with the Wolves. He finished the year with a -12 rating. In nine playoff games, he added a goal and two assists. This year, de Haan's rating has improved to a +1, and he has five assists in 18 games. He said he’s trying not to let the pressure of it being his draft year get to him as he feels he plays better unencumbered by the stress of knowing the scouts are in the crowd.
“Sometimes you think about it, but it’s just another hockey game, really,” he said. “You just really have to focus on that and not let it get to your head. I find I play my best when I’m just having fun out there and playing hockey.”
And dealing with the pressures of the draft year is another thing that big brother has offered advice on.
“He just says it’s a long season and you’re going to have a lot of opportunities to prove yourself,” Evan explained. “But he says you never know who may be watching, so you want to bring it every shift.”
de Haan said he sees the Wolves as laying in wait in the OHL's Eastern Conference. The club has yet to hit its stride, but when they do, the league should be on notice.
“I see this team, it’s been a little bit of a slow start for us, but we’re starting to find our identity out there,” he said. “I think we need to just start winning on the road. That will be huge getting some points on the road when you’re not supposed to.”
And as he approaches the 2014 NHL Draft, hoping to follow in his older brother’s footsteps, Evan said his focus as a defenseman is just to improve his fundamentals.
“It always starts in your own end, so I’ve been really focusing on that this year,” he said. “Trying to be a plus player, being on for goals for instead of goals against.
“Do I worry about having a bad game in front of the scouts? Yes and no. No, there are 64 or 65 more games to play, so you’re going to have more chances to prove yourself.”
de Haan said that, because of the age difference, the brothers have never been able to play each other in a formal setting. Calvin’s last year with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals was in 2010-11, while Evan’s first with the Wolves was last year. “We didn’t really play against each other — just during the summer at scrimmages, and on the outdoor rink growing up.”
With a strong season, Evan may find himself rectifying that in the future in the NHL.
Follow Jason Menard on Twitter via @JayCMenard