Every year teams trade away draft picks or prospects to get their hands on a rental player that they believe can fill a hole and make a difference down the stretch and in the playoffs. Who has been the best trade deadline rental pickup of all-time? Alexander and I debate…
2008: Marian Hossa to Pittsburgh
By Alexander Monaghan
Back in February of 2008, the Pittsburgh Penguins sent Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito, Colby Armstrong and a first round pick (Daultan Leveille) to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. At that point, they needed a scoring winger to compliment Sidney Crosby – and boy did they get that.
The Penguins surged towards the latter half of that season and won seven of their last 12 games after Hossa came on board. They would eventually claim the Atlantic Division due to their memorable run.
Over his first 12 games, the Slovakian winger would score three goals and 10 points before breaking out in the playoffs. In 20 hard-fought playoff contests, Hossa scored 12 goals and 26 points, which was second to Crosby himself. He delivered everything he promised, and more, despite the Pens falling two wins short of the Stanley Cup.
On a side note, the Penguins made out like bandits with the Hossa trade. Not only did they get their lethal sniper for a playoff run but Dupuis, who was a throw-in at the time, is still a vital part of the Pens' system. In fact, he has scored 62 goals (and counting) in Pittsburgh since the move while Christensen, Esposito, Leveille and Armstrong only mustered 48 tallies for the now-defunct Thrashers.
But going back to our main point, Hossa is the perfect rental because he not only did the job once, but he turned around and did it the very next season.
The Detroit Red Wings defined the rich getting richer by signing Hossa to a lucrative one-year deal worth $7.45 million. And a perfect, if not unconventional, rental he was. He finished that season as the team's third most productive forward, behind stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Hossa then turned in another serviceable postseason performance – six goals and 15 points in 23 games – as he watched his new team fall short of the Cup by one win.
Hossa would eventually win the holy grail of hockey but only after signing a long-term 12-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, thus making him no longer the league's best mercenary. Neverthless, how many other guys can say they made the Finals three years in a row, for three different teams?
2006: Dwayne Roloson to Edmonton
By Ryan Porth
There have been plenty of great rental pickups over the years. None have meant more, though, than when the Edmonton Oilers acquired goaltender Dwayne Roloson in 2006.
On deadline day in 2006, the Oilers needed to make an upgrade at goaltender. Though the team was in playoff positioning at the time, Jussi Markkanen and Ty Conklin weren’t cutting it in goal. GM Kevin Lowe went out and traded a first-round pick to Minnesota for Roloson, who was splitting time with Manny Fernandez all season.
Roloson turned out to be a difference-maker for the Oilers. Though his numbers to close out the season didn’t set the world on fire (8-7-4, 2.43 GAA, .905 SV%), he helped the Oilers stay in the Western Conference top eight.
Then came the playoffs, where the eighth-seeded Oilers went on a memorable run. Most will give credit to Chris Pronger for being a dominant presence, but Roloson came through in the clutch time after time.
There’s no way the Oilers would have beaten the invincible Detroit Red Wings in the first round without Roloson. There’s no way they would have out-muscled the red-hot San Jose Sharks or breezed by the well-built Anaheim Mighty Ducks without the veteran backstop, either. And there’s a theory that if Roloson hadn’t broken his leg in Game 1 against Carolina in the Stanley Cup final, the Oilers would have won that series and miraculously won it all as an eight seed.
Roloson posted a 2.33 goals-against average in 18 playoff games with the Oilers in 2006. He made one big save after another during the playoffs, including this beauty in overtime against San Jose in round two.
Roloson re-signed with Edmonton after that season and spent three more years there. He was also a valuable mid-season trade acquisition by Tampa Bay last season as the Lightning unexpectedly went to the conference finals.
Would Markkanen or Conklin have led the eighth-seeded Oilers to the Cup final, much less past the first round? Absolutely not, which makes Roloson one of the best pickups – as a rental – in trade deadline history.
Photos credit: Getty Images
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