Now that the shock of the initial trade is wearing down for the Pittsburgh Penguins to acquire Ron Hainsey for a 2nd round pick (and the Hurricanes retaining half of his salary) the obvious question becomes- what can Pittsburgh expect from Hainsey?
Initially, and obviously, Hainsey is a badly needed band-aid. Last week Pittsburgh lost Olli Maatta for six weeks with a broken hand. This week, Trevor Daley hurt his knee, had surgery, and is also expected out six weeks. Justin Schultz in on the mend from a concussion and may be back as soon as Saturday. Hainsey will help in the sense that he's at least an NHL caliber defenseman to plug in.
Secondarily, we asked our friends at Canes Country for a scouting report and here's what Peter said
Hainsey has played about as expected thus far--nothing too fancy, but also rarely a liability. That is to say I haven't been enamored with his play, but that's just usually how it is. He's not flashy, just solid. At 35 he's certainly not the player he once was--the 39 points he put up in 08-09 compared to the 14 he has so far this year show his offensive regression--but he knows his role. What he lacks in scoring production and speed, he makes up for in defensive-zone reliability and puck movement in transition. He's very much a prototypical stay-at-home defenseman, and was one of Carolina's stout penalty-killers. He'll do well to fill the hole left by Trevor Daley, even if he may not be quite as mobile.
Mike Sullivan and Jim Rutherford about echoed this report today (as you probably would expect for a group that just added Hainsey)
#Pens GM Rutherford on Hainsey: Character guy. Lots of experience. Good PKer. Can skate and move puck. Should fit in our system -SK— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) February 23, 2017
Sullivan on Hainsey: Mobile guy. Good size. Long reach. Defends well. Good first pass. Skill set compliments guys that we have -SK— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) February 23, 2017
Those niceties aside, here's some other interesting angles to consider:
GMJR said he wanted to improve the PK.— VBstone (@vinnybatts) February 23, 2017
Of 137 d-men to play 50+ PK minutes this season, Hainsey ranks 12th in shot attempts against/60.
Pittsburgh's penalty kill is just 21st in the league - they will need to be better in the playoffs. One defenseman isn't going to totally switch things around, but Hainsey should add a new option and be a positive force for a unit that could use the upgrade.
It hasn't been horrible for Hainsey. He'll do a serviceable job. pic.twitter.com/l2JuaRTg2F— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) February 23, 2017
The Hurricanes were in a position where they had to have Hainsey log a lot of minutes. At this stage of his career that's asking too much, but he still didn't get totally caved in and again he evidenced some nice shot suppression at 5v5, another element the Penguins could stand to add if possible.
In all, Pittsburgh surrenders a 2nd round pick (hopefully a very late one) in what's considered a weaker draft. Considering the Penguins still have their 1st round pick this season, plus a somewhat rebuilt talent pool in the 18-24 year old range, losing a 2nd seems manageable in the big scheme of things- where 2nd round picks are more likely to become busts than NHL regulars.
Adding a veteran who will hopefully be a reliable body down the stretch would be well worth it. Ron Hainsey certainly isn't a sexy pickup, and not one without risk, but with a tight trade climate these days he at least brings some elements to the team that they don't already have. If Hainsey can be serviceable, limit mistakes and add to the PK group it will be a successful pickup for a banged up team looking to make another playoff run.