The NHL season is on hold, but that doesn’t mean NHL GM’s and scouts are not working. During this year Winter Olympic break front offices all over the NHL are sitting in their offices trying to figure out the answer to one of two questions. What player do we need to make a run at the Stanly Cup, or who can we unload to start rebuilding for next year.
For the teams that are looking at a playoff run the idea of a rental player often seems like a good idea. They brink in the big name UFA, in hopes that it re-energizes their team, and provides the push needed to make a run at the cup. However, bringing in talent like that often has a high price. Teams have to part with top draft picks, and young talent. It’s a little like mortgaging the future for a possible immediate return. More often than not the return is not the desired result.
The teams that win the Stanley Cup more often than not already have the top talent on the roster, and are only looking to add depth players at the trade deadline. It’s the mid-range teams that seem to attract the rental players. This season the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers of the league may want a rental. But, again is it really worth it? Do you want your team to mortgage the draft, and their prospects in hope of a playoff run?
On the flip side of the rental player debate are the bottom teams. Teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, and New York Islanders of the NHL. These teams may be looking to unload their talented UFA’s. Sure there are some Playoff bound teams looking to unload players that won’t resign with them. The New York Rangers have such a player in Ryan Callahan. But, for the most part the poor feed the rich. This season trade dead line and the weeks leading up to it will not be any different.
Looking at the Sabres there are no less than three players that have rental written all over them. Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, and Matt Moulson; any of these players could be worth a first round pick if dealt. The same can be said for Thomas Vanek, and Callahan. Here’s the reward of a rental player. The teams that don’t want to or can’t keep their talent are “given” the chance to try again via the draft of prospects.
The fan side of me loves this time of year. I can sit back and watch the tickers, and twitter feeds for breaking news. But, the business side of me still is not sure if rental players are worth bringing in. It is truly a risk vs. reward argument. If the rental players gets your team to the playoffs anything can happen, but you bring in that player and fall short was it worth the draft pick and player(s) you just gave up?