Hurricanes sign Ron Hainsey after Joni Pitkanen ruled out for season

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Hainsey had 13 assists in 47 games last season in Winnipeg. (USATSI)
Hainsey had 13 assists in 47 games last season in Winnipeg. (USATSI)

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It didn't take long for the Carolina Hurricanes to find a replacement for defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who is going to miss the entire season. On Thursday they announced the signing of veteran Ron Hainsey .

GM Jim Rutherford announed that the deal is for just one season and $2 million total.

"Ron is an experienced, two-way defenseman," Rutherford said. "He was very interested in joining our team this summer, and was patient as we waited for updated information about Joni Pitkanen's injury. We are happy to be able to solidify our defense with a player of this caliber at this stage."

Hainsey spent the past five seasons with the Thrashers/Jets franchise. Last season he played in 47 of 48 games and averaged 22:52 per night, still big minutes at this stage of his career. Not that he's really old or anything, Hainsey is 32, but his game has gone down a bit. Or at least it has changed.

For three straight years earlier in his career Hainsey had at least 32 points but those totals have gone down recently. He hasn't scored a goal since he wore a Thrashers sweater.

It's not that defensive defensemen aren't useful, it's just that he's not going to be able to replace Pitkanen's production. Pitkanen has been one of the better offensive defensemen in the NHL in recent years. Finding a replacement at this point was going to be all but impossible to do so Hainsey isn't a bad fallback option at this point.

Still, the Hurricanes have serious question marks on their defense coming into the season. Getting the spot of Pitkanen filled helps but it could be a trouble spot all season.

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