After reports were coming out earlier about the Leafs pursuing Ron Hainsey, it has been confirmed that the Leafs have signed Ron Hainsey to a 2 year, $3 million contract.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) July 1, 2017
Since Jeff Veillette already went in depth about Ron Hainsey’s abilities as a player, I’ll talk a bit more about the contract.
Hainsey isn’t a terrible defenseman by any means, but personally, I find $3 million to be a bit of an overpayment, especially at Hainsey’s age. The following players who played at least one game this season had a cap hit of $3 million this season: Tomas Hertl, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Mikael Granlund, Martin Jones, Andrew Cogliano, and Mathieu Perreault, with quite a few of those deals being RFA deals that need to be re-signed. Hainsey compares to none of those players, but it’s not a fair comparison to make when these are all forwards or goalies.
However, there is a defenseman who is just coming off a deal with a $3 million cap hit. Leafs fans will know of him, as that player is Stephane Robidas. While Robidas was a year older when he signed the deal, coming off a couple of bad leg injuries, and signed for a year longer, these are comparable situations. Hainsey is a solid depth player, but you would’ve hoped by now that the Leafs had learned their lesson at signing old defenseman to more than one year at a relatively expensive price, considering they just finished paying Robidas $3 million a year to sit at home.
On the bright side, it’s only a two year deal, so worst case scenario is that he doesn’t work out and you eat the cap hit. Also, this falls into the Leafs two year window before they have to re-sign Matthews and Marner, so the cap hit won’t cause any problems in that regard, although it might cause some issues with Nylander’s extension.
At the very least, Hainsey is a solid, third pair defenseman who has experience. He can play on both sides, so he has a bit of versatility to him, and he’s a better option than Polak. The cap hit is a bit high, but not high enough to cause any massive problems, and it’s a short enough term that the Leafs might be able to afford to bite the bullet if it goes wrong. It’s not ideal, especially if this is the only defenseman they sign, but it’s not the end of the world.