Defenseman Ron Hainsey signed a two-year contract Saturday with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth $6 million, an average annual value of $3 million.
"I think the system is a great fit for me," Hainsey said. "When (coach) Bill Peters got to Carolina and put the system in, which is basically what (Maple Leafs coach) Mike Babcock does, it really suited my game and it's a system I'm really confident playing. Coupled with everything that's going on there, from the young forwards that can create so much offense to (president) Brendan Shanahan on down, as a defenseman, if you didn't want to be part of this, you'd be nuts, I really believe that."
Hainsey, 36, making his first career appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup last season. He had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 25 games.
"He's a veteran, he's won and he's had success no matter where he's been as far as playing with offensive partners," Toronto general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "We feel he'll come up in the top four and serve a purpose."
Video: Ron Hainsey on signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs
The Penguins acquired Hainsey in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 17, prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. He had 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 72 regular-season games.
"By Wednesday, I had it down to four teams, and after I had my conversations with [general manager Lou Lamoriello] on the phone, and Mike, after talking to them and hearing their vision for everything, that pretty well sealed the deal in my mind that this was the place I wanted to be," Hainsey said.
Hainsey was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the 13th pick in the 2000 NHL Draft. He has 253 points (49 goals, 204 assists) in 907 games during 14 seasons with the Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets, Atlanta Trashers/Winnipeg Jets, Hurricanes and Penguins.
"[The Maple Leafs] got their first taste of it this year in the first round of the playoffs in a [heck] of a series against the Washington Capitals," Hainsey said. "We're all going to be on board to push further than that coming up here next year. I thought that series was intriguing because after it was clear Toronto was going to give them all they could handle, you didn't know what the outcome of the series was going to be. Having to play against Toronto's young forwards, I'm pretty familiar with the problems they can give you with their speed and creativity. It's an exciting group to be a part of, no question."