Ron Hainsey is a reasonably useful player. He quietly averages more than 21 minutes over his 907-game NHL career. He blocks shots. He kills penalties with aplomb. He’s not a zero in the offense department. He even has a Stanley Cup ring, earned this past season with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first playoffs of his entire career.
But Hainsey, 36, doesn’t qualify as a big splash for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who landed him with a two-year, $6-million deal. If he’s sold to the public as that, it’s dishonest. No, Hainsey is merely a replacement for Matt Hunwick, who just signed with Pittsburgh, coincidentally. Ideally, the Leafs will deploy Hainsey on their bottom pair most nights, the same way they did Hunwick with Roman Polak.
The big question now is whether Hainsey qualifies as that “right side” blueliner the Leafs seek this off-season. They were linked to the Anaheim Ducks’ Sami Vatanen and reportedly made an aggressive pitch to the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic. Hainsey is a left shot but played the right side for Pittsburgh during the post-season.
If Hainsey does end up being Toronto’s lone off-season acquisition to play the right side, Leaf fans should be disappointed. For now, he’s Hunwick 2.0, which leaves Toronto no better or worse than it was this past April.
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