Jets Free Agents: Ron Hainsey Contract Comparables


The Summer of Rebuild is upon the Jets, with a well publicized and frequently discussed 17 RFAs and 12 UFAs to deal with from last year’s 48 man roster, as well as a host of prospects who have outworn their welcome in Junior. While many of those 29 players will be flushed or not make an impact on the big league roster,  Ron Hainsey has reached UFA status after a season in which he played the 3rd most minutes per game among Jets defencemen, including the most short handed minutes of any defender. 

His season was… He tried really hard, guys. Hainsey was used against the toughest opponents, with the hardest zone start on the team, and had Ondrej Pavelec as a goalie. Not surprisingly, the outcome wasn’t pretty. By advanced metrics, it was Hainsey’s worst season in recent memory. Interestingly for Jets fans, if you haven’t watched Ron Hainsey’s career, you might not know that Claude Noel used Hainsey in a way no coach ever has. In fact, as we examine the cliff Hainsey seems to have descended with alacrity, we’ll keep in mind the man who pushed him. What role might the former powerplay specialist turned penalty kill specialist have with the team moving forward? Most importantly, what is Hainsey’s worth to the Jets and what kind of salary might he command this summer?

Who is Ron Hainsey?

If you watched this season with the Jets exclusively, you would think Ron Hainsey was a mistake prone defensive specialist from the Nick Schultz / Rob Scuderi tree. He doesn’t head-hunt like Brooks Orpik, or change careers like Robin Regehr, but he blocked 123 shots (2 back of Dan Girardi for most blocks in the NHL), and used finesse and positioning to manage the best zone finish % of Jets blue liners despite the worst zone start %. If you had this model of Ron Hainsey in mind when you looked at his fancy stats over time, you might conclude that the poor guy is getting old and decline is underway. But as you’re tired of me alluding to by now, Ron Hainsey was in a new role this year. I present a chart and a graph to consider.







EV Pts

PP Pts

12/13 (WPG)








11/12 (WPG)








10/11 (ATL)








09/10 (ATL)








08/09 (ATL)








07/08 (CBJ)








06/07 (CBJ)








05/06 (CBJ)








This table made me angry, and then I laughed, but that slowly moved into a slack-jawed head shaking. The Jets powerplay was league worst this season. I’m not saying Hainsey should beat out Enstrom and Byfuglien when healthy, but they weren’t. The team had a 30+ point getting defenceman with impressive powerplay scoring numbers (admittedly in his past) and ran out Paul Postma and Grant Clitsome all year. But that’s only half my confusion – the Thrashers gave Hainsey a 22.5M deal over 5 years because of his ability to score AND defend. Head Coach John "I made Todd White!" Anderson squeezed 39 points out of Hainsey in his first year on an Atlanta team that was 6th in the NHL in Goals For. In subsequent Thrasher years, the team would play a more defensive scheme, with Pavel Kubina and then Dustin Byfuglien stealing Hainsey’s powerplay minutes. My confusion, though, is how the team allowed a $22million investment in a two-way, second-pairing defenceman to languish in unsuitable and ever-changing roles, ending the 5 year term with a somewhat more successful Mike Komisarek contract albatross. 

(Right click, then ‘View Image’ to see it larger. Check out this PDF for an in-depth explanation of how to read it)

The graph above is a player usage chart for all of Ron Hainsey’s seasons dating back to 2007/08 (when the data that makes the chart first started being recorded and made available by the NHL). What’s strange is that if you had to ‘name the outlier,’ you could make a case for almost any season. His little blue circles (meaning slight positive rel corsi) are 2007/08 with CBJ (far right; better zone starts, harder competition) and 2008/09 under Anderson (bottom left; 42% offensive zone starts, easy competition). His Winnipeg years are the large orange (negative rel corsi) at the very bottom (2011’s year of injury) and the large orange at the very top – the hardest competition he’s ever played with a team worst offesive zone start %. 

Who is Ron Hainsey? I would argue that even his coaches don’t know. Still, he appears to be a defenceman of bottom-four quality with a wide range of skills. He’s big, he skates well, he moves the puck well, and can play in all three disciplines (despite how Claude Noel has chosen to use him).

What is Ron Hainsey Worth?

*All cap numbers from

Typically when looking at contract comparables, I would start by looking at defencemen who had similar seasons according to fancy stats (with more tables and charts!). It’s not terrible pretty for Hainsey. Of the 210 defencemen who played 20 or more games in the NHL this year, Hainsey’s RelCorsi ranks 183rd. Still, when we take into account his circumstances (tough minutes, poor zone start) and his scoring (on pace for 22 points in a full season), he starts to look better than some players who are extolled in the media.

The much celebrated Dan Girardi (3.4M) had a very similar year, ranking 168th in Rel Corsi, scoring at the same rate, and facing slightly easier competition and zone starts on his way to acheiving a slightly better corsi %. Robin Regehr (4M) had a similar role but struggled much more than Hainsey with it. He ranked 203rd in Rel Corsi and of course scored much less. Rotislav Klesla (2.975M) faced easier competition with a slightly better rel corsi result but was otherwise similar for the desert dogs. Some recent historic seasons that were similar include Eric Brewer in 2011/12 (3.875M), Bouwmeester in 2011/12 (6.68M), and Wisniewski in 2011/12 (5.5M), though both Bouwmeester and Wisniewski got powerplay time and scored a little more than Hainsey this year. By eye, we might imagine, then, that Hainsey might ask for 12M/3 years or even 15M/4 and settle somewhere in the 10M/3 or 7M/2 range depending on his priorities. 

That said, as this season is an aberration, it’s hard to imagine what he’s worth qualitatively to the team. The Jets don’t have a tough minutes defender to replace the role Hainsey played this year, though left handed defence-first defencemen is about the only area in the Free Agent pool with depth this off-season. In no particular order of quality, I count Regehr, Leopold, Lydman, Scuderi, and even Mark Fistric as UFAs of that type besides Hainsey. Yet, neither do the Jets have a second unit PP defenceman that Hainsey could be for them. Currently, the Jets blue line badly lacks balance, with specialists in almost every spot. A two-way player who can play all three disciplines is of tremendous value to this squad, and it would be a shame to let him go in order to fit specialists Mark Stuart and Grant Clitsome on the 23 man roster. Or worse yet – lose him and spend his cap value on a highly praised specialist like Regehr.

It’s impossible to know what Hainsey’s relationship to the rest of the team is, but he has been in Atlanta/Winnipeg since Bogosian’s 18 year old season and his 13 years of pro-hockey experience on the port-side has to be of some value to a team with left-handed Jacob Trouba coming to camp.

Photo by Michael Miller (WikiCommons)Photo by Michael Miller

Bottom Line

The Jets severely lack in defensive depth in addition to lacking balance, and losing Hainsey only worsens that scenario. Don’t be surprised if Hainsey signs a 2 year, short term deal in the 7-8M range, struggles for another season as a shot blocking, tough minutes defender, and then scores 30 points in a more even-handed role under a better different coach in 2014/15.



Never too late to sign up for StreakCred – the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. For only $10 you can win solid prizes and a portion of the proceeds go to supporting the MS Bike Tour and the Edmonton Down Syndrome Society. Sign up here.

Around the Network

Canucks Army has been killing it with Coach Candidate Profiles since Vigneault was fired. The Canucks can only choose one in the end, so I spend my days fantasizing they pick someone I can laugh at (come on Torts!) while the Jets dump Noel for this guy.