So are rental players really worth it or are they another form of NHL fool's gold? Is thinking you stole something in February more like winning the day on July 1 and then getting buyer's remorse a couple of years later from your free agent folly?
Recent history shows a lot of hit and miss at the trade deadline. Think of how little Kevin Shattenkirk did for the Capitals last year, or how much Martin Hanzal cost the Wild in draft currency to come from Arizona and not help his team get past the first round. On the other hand, think how important Justin Schultz has become on the Pittsburgh blueline after the Penguins got him out of Edmonton at the deadline in 2016.
Maybe Ottawa's Erik Karlsson will someday make this list if the Sens figure out a way to get a megadeal done. Maybe Evander Kane blows up in the postseason as a rental and gives his new club the flashes of 30-goal form he's shown for the Sabres the last three years. Or maybe Rick Nash and Michael Grabner can be those kind of guys.
It's Buyer Beware time. Here's a quick look at some of the best deals in recent years, the kind that all GMs are aspiring to in the next couple of days.
Butch Goring from Los Angeles to the New York Islanders in 1980 -- It was a good hockey trade, as forward Billy Harris and defeneseman Dave Lewis were strong Islanders pieces. But Goring went on to become a four-time Cup champion and the 1981 Conn Smythe Trophy winner. Many on the 1980 team say his acquisition pushed the Islanders over the top after several years of playoff frustration.
Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis from Atlanta to Pittsburgh in 2008 -- From bottom-feeder to Stanley Cup final in a couple of months, the two Thrashers had to love their luck. The Penguins sent two players, a prospect and a first-round pick back. The players had key roles in the Winter Classic in Ralph Wilson Stadium a couple months earlier, with Colby Armstrong scoring the game's first goal and Erik Christenson getting stopped on the Pens' first shootout attempt. Hossa had 12 goals for the Penguins that spring while Dupuis won two Cups and became a team and organizational favorite in a career that lasted until 2016.
Marian Gaborik from Columbus to Los Angeles in 2014 -- Gaborik had 14 goals in the playoffs that spring, won a Stanley Cup and even re-signed with the Kings. His career stretched until last week, when he was sent to Ottawa in the Dion Phaneuf trade. The Blue Jackets got Matt Frattin and draft picks. Yeesh.
Filip Forsberg from Washington to Nashville in 2013 -- Are you kidding me? The swap of Forsberg for Martin Erat is one of the most lopsided in NHL history. The Caps mortgaged their future by sending away a No. 1 pick for Erat, a plugger they hoped would help their playoff run. Never happened. Forsberg played in one Cup final last spring and could do it again this year.
Ben Bishop from Ottawa to Tampa Bay in 2013 -- The return was former Sabre and Canisius College star Cory Conacher, who has managed to resurrect his career with the Lightning this season. The Senators had too many goalies, including Robin Lehner, and deemed Bishop expendable. Maybe he was. But what a steal for the Lightning. By 2015, Bishop was a Vezina finalist and was starting in the Stanley Cup final.
Ray Bourque from Boston to Colorado in 2000 -- The Bruins defenseman went West with Dave Andreychuk and didn't get his Stanley Cup that spring. It took until 2001, when Bourque finally lifted the trophy after a 22-year career that culminated in a Game Seven victory over New Jersey. The Bruins got a first-round pick, two prospects and veteran Brian Rolson. Advantage, Avs.
Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson from Hartford (remember them?) to Pittsburgh in 1991 -- This was the move that pushed the Penguins over the edge for their first Cup. Francis even stayed through 1998. The return was forwards John Cullen and Jeff Parker (an ex-Sabre) and defenseman Zarley Zalapski. They were all NHL players at the time but never did much winning in Hartford. The Penguins won it all with their two pickups.
Cuban didn't learn tanking code
Good on the NBA for banging Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $600,000 for openly admitting on a podcast with Julius Erving that his 18-40 team planned on tanking the rest of the way. Commissioner Adam Silver nailed Cuban for "public statements detrimental to the NBA."
Cuban made no bones about what his team was doing while talking to Erving.
“I’m probably not supposed to say this, but I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren’t competing for the playoffs. I was like, ‘Look, losing is our best option,’ ” Cuban said. "Adam would hate hearing that, but at least I sat down and I explained it to them.
"And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we’re not going to tank again. This was, like, a year and a half of tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent. I think that’s the key to being kind of a players’ owner and having stability — you’ve got to communicate.”
The Sabres -- as well as teams like Edmonton, Arizona and Toronto -- always took a public stance they were trying to win during the height of the NHL's tank era. Former General Manager Tim Murray was furious when the topic was brought up to him and owner Terry Pegula was adamant the team was simply "rebuilding" when pressed on the philosophy last year following his dismissal of Murray.
It's no secret this corner abhors tanking at all levels, and baseball could be very ugly on this front this season. But at least the NHL teams tried to put on a happy face about what they were doing. You simply can't have owners like Cuban admit they're not trying to win.
Amanda's brother is the No. 2 Kessel for now
Penguins winger Phil Kessel was beaming with pride after practice Thursday talking about his sister, Amanda, who suffered a concussion in Sochi in 2014 and was unable to play for nearly two years before returning to the ice and eventually winning the Olympic women's hockey gold medal Wednesday in South Korea.
"I'm very proud of her," Phil said. "She missed a lot of time with her concussion and stuff. And to be able to win a gold medal, it's a special accomplishment."
Amanda Kessel scored a key goal in the shootout with a wrist shot when the U.S. was in a 2-1 hole against archrival Canada.
"It was great," Phil Kessel said. ""It was a lot of pressure. They're down 2-1 in the shootout and she kind of has to make it there. She made a great shot and I'm proud of her."
Phil Kessel has two Stanley Cup championships with the Penguins but his Olympic success is limited to his 2010 silver medal in Vancouver, when Team USA lost to Canada on Sidney Crosby's golden goal.
Said Amanda Kessel in PyeongChang: "Maybe we’re even now."
"It's been a good run," Phil said of the Kessel family. "Hopefully we can keep it going."
More on the Golden Girls
* Panthers defenseman and Canadian Mike Matheson on his girlfriend of five years, Getzville native and fellow Boston College player Emily Pfalzer: "I was definitely rooting for her to win. My experience with Hockey Canada has been unbelievable, they’ve treated us so well. When I’m playing for Canada, I’m fully in, and I hate U.S. There’s definitely that sense and that feeling. Anytime that she’s on the ice and playing for her country, I’m fully rooting for her.”
* The NHL has announced it's hosting and honoring the entire team during the second intermission of its March 3 Stadium Series game between the Capitals and Maple Leafs at the U.S. Naval Academy's Marine Corps Stadium.
* One thing to be thankful about with the NHL: There is absolutely zero movement among player or management circles to ever include the shootout in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Fans would hate it too. As spine-tingling as the gold medal game was, ending it in a shootout rang hollow no matter which side of the border you were sitting on.
The Olympics have to maintain a schedule and nobody disputes that in pool play and maybe even as medal rounds start. But in the semifinals and medal games, why can't we play it out until there's a winner? Booo.
* The omnipresent Vegas Twitter feed jumped right on board with the victory by the U.S. women with a picture of Hilary Knight accompanied by the words "You can say she's a ... golden Knight" followed by emojis of a gold medal and an American flag.
You can say she’s a... golden Knight 🥇🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/ZTP4mq1qlH
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) February 22, 2018
* NBC has announced it's using 1998 U.S. Olympian and women's hockey analyst AJ Mleczko as an analyst for its coverage of the Detroit at Boston game March 6 on NBCSN. Mleczko will be alongside Chris Cuthbert with Brian Boucher serving in the Inside the Glass role. Good for the Peacock honchos. Mleczko was excellent during these Games. And from this view, the less of Mike Milbury at the mic, the better.
Around the boards
* The Sabres' first game of the season against the Leafs is March 5 in KeyBank Center. Doesn't figure to include Jack Eichel and it might not include Auston Matthews either. He's going to be "out for a bit" with a shoulder problem, coach Mike Babcock said Friday after his star got sandwiched by two Islanders late in the third period Thursday.
Matthews entered the weekend with 68 goals in his two seasons -- including an NHL-high 58 at even strength. No one else in the league hit Saturday with more than 50 in that span. For comparison sake, Kane led the Sabres with 39 and Eichel had 33.
* Want a harder club to figure? Try the Flyers. They lost 10 in a row at one point in November and December, going 0-5-5, and are 24-8-3 since to pull in the race for the Metropolitan title with Pittsburgh and Washington. They went out and got Petr Mrazek from Detroit at the deadline to play goal with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth injured -- silencing speculation they would go for Lehner or Chad Johnson from the Sabres.
* The Blackhawks are finally admitting they may shut down Corey Crawford for the season due to a concussion. Their ace goaltender skated last week in Arizona but hasn't returned to the ice since and hasn't played in a game since December.
"Going to say right now we’ll see on that one,” coach Joel Quenneville said when asked if he was going to let Crawford return. “Before we were. Where we’re at, his health’s going to dictate all that.”
* The Rangers' trade of Michael Grabner to New Jersey was their first ever transaction with the Devils, who moved to the swamp from Colorado way back in 1982. The Rangers and Islanders have made just two minor trades, one in 1972 and the other in 2010.