Ron Hainsey will eat up some of Joni Pitkanen’s minutes for the Carolina Hurricanes. That is no small thing.
With Pitkanen sidelined for the season with his career-threatening heel fracture, Hainsey’s arrival will held fill a major void.
He played 47 games in Winnipeg last season and blocked 123 shots, most on the team. He isn’t a big offensive threat (no goals, 13 assists last season), but he can move the puck.
At 32 years old he still has some gas left in the tank. He shoot fit in nicely.
“He's an experienced NHL player who can play good minutes for us, 20 to 22 a game,” Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford explained. “He also a very good shot-blocker and penalty killer.
“He was a player we were interested in at the start of free agency and he was interested in coming here. Now, with Joni's situation, which we weren't expecting, we're able to fill that gap with someone who has a lot of experience. I'm glad he was patient and he waited.”
He is a relative bargain, too, with a one-year, $2 million contract. But can Hainsey replace Pitkanen’s presence on blue line?
That will be the hard part, especially for a team relying so heavily on young defensemen this season. Pitkanen was a key player in all game situations, including the power play.
Justin Faulk’s job just got that much harder. The team's cornerstone defenseman will have grow up in a hurry.