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Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel / USA TODAY Sports

REPORT: Leafs linked to defenceman Ron Hainsey in free agency

Free Agent Frenzy officially kicks off today, and the Leafs finally have finally had their first direct connection afforded to them by a top-shelf insider. With that said, the player isn’t as big of a fish; Elliotte Friedman reports that the Leafs may be connected to Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Ron Hainsey.

Hainsey finished last year with 4 goals and 17 points in 62 games with the Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes, where he spent three seasons prior. His career arc is peculiar, to say the least; the 36-year-old played 907 games of regular season action before getting his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. Thanks to Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup victory, he can still claim to have never lost a playoff series in the NHL.

Hainsey’s deployment this year was interesting; he tended to play against opponents who were their team’s top offensive generators, but typically started in the offensive zone more than his teammates. His most common partner in Carolina was Justin Faulk, and in Pittsburgh it was Brian Dumoulin.

As for how much stock we should put in this speculation? It’s hard to go against Friedman, though it’s always worth noting that in a signing situation, Leafs gossip these days tends to come from agents trying to drive the price of their clients up, rather than from the team. I’m not sure that’s the case here, but it’s still a possibility.

Besides that, I’d hope Hainsey isn’t much more than depth if he were to make his way into Toronto. I’m not sure what he does that Matt Hunwick wasn’t already doing, and if Travis Dermott couldn’t step up and take his place.