Thrashers get Hainsey on second day of free agency

Updated: July 2, 2008, 8:07 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

The Atlanta Thrashers may not have a lot going for them, but GM Don Waddell did manage to lock in the best available defensemen on the market on Wednesday's Day 2 of free agency.

The team reached a five-year, $22.5-million deal with former Columbus Blue Jackets blueliner Ron Hainsey, who has terrific upside because of his size (6 foot 3, 209 pounds) and his puck-handling ability.

"Ron is one of the best young defensemen in free agency and we're very happy to be adding a player of his caliber to our lineup," Waddell said.

"He moves the puck well, has good offensive capabilities and is a solid all-around defenseman who has taken significant strides with his game over the last few seasons."

Hainsey may not have matured defensively (he was a combined minus-26 the past two seasons in Columbus), but he's only 27.

In Atlanta, which finished in a tie for last in goals-allowed per game last season, Hainsey will be expected to log big minutes and help out a power play that was 23rd in the league in 2007-08.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.