The idea of a rental player has sparked occasional controversy in the NHL. Is it really the same to win the Stanley Cup with a team after being in the locker room for only a few months? Do you deserve to have your named etched on the glorious Stanley Cup? Some players, like Mats Sundin, say that the experience of winning a Stanley Cup as a rental player would have been a hollow experience compared to winning one at home, with the team you had grown with.
Other players obviously disagree. The point being that the most important part of any season is the playoff run, and if you’re part of that magical moment, you’re as part of the team as anybody. Also, being around a culture of losing for so long can take a serious effect on a player. Just how much futility can one person take? It's a fine balance between wanting to stay loyal to your team, or if the pursuit of Lord Stanley is just too tempting to pass up.
With 30 teams competing for the Stanley Cup every year and only one winner, rental players have become more popular in recent years. It’s a great way to improve your team right before the deadline heading into the playoffs. However, they remain a risk because they often come at a hefty price, and very often the team doesn’t win the cup and are stuck with a commodity. On top of that, you may lose them that offseason and it's seen as a complete waste if you're not playing hockey in June.
This article will highlight the happy endings, the rental players that were lucky enough to hoist the Stanley Cup, where just a few months ago they were looking at missing the playoffs. This list will include players who joined these winning teams on an expiring contract. Some chose to re-sign in the offseason, while some left in July, forever remaining rentals.
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15 Cory Stillman
Cory Stillman was no household name, but he had some incredibly effective seasons in the mid 2000s, being acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to their 2003-04 Stanley Cup season. On the last year of his contract, Stillman enjoyed a career year, recording 80 points and scoring 25 goals. Stillman would add seven points in the playoffs en route to a Stanley Cup. Following the 2004-05 lockout, Stillman would sign with the Hurricanes, where he would win another Cup in 2006.
14 George Parros
George Parros had bounced around the NHL a lot, but caught a big break when he was shipped from the Avalanche to the Anaheim Ducks early in the 2006-07 season. Playing for a contract, Parros picked up 18 fighting majors that season and wound up winning his first and only Stanley Cup. While his fighting didn't do much to help the Ducks win the Stanley Cup, he had found himself a new home and consequently, chose to re-sign with Anaheim in the offseason.
13 Kimmo Timonen
While Kimmo Timonen didn't really contribute much to the Blackhawks in their 2015 Stanley Cup run, often riding the bench in key moments, his long solid career merits him a spot on the list. Last summer, Timonen was diagnosed with blood clots and it wasn't known if he'd ever play again, approaching 40. Close to a return, the Flyers traded Timonen to the Blackhawks this past winter. He would end his long career with a Stanley Cup in Chicago. Timonen got the storybook ending to his career, saying “I was dreaming about this moment for a long time, and it’s right here. This game has given me so much, and I’m relieved, happy, ready to leave this game, and I’m leaving this game as a Stanley Cup champion.”
12 Tomas Kaberle
Kaberle won his first and only Stanley Cup under the official title of rental player. The long-time Leafs player finally had a chance to escape the postseason woes of the Toronto Maple Leafs to compete for the Cup with the Boston Bruins. Of course, that was the year they hoisted the Stanley Cup, prevailing over the Canucks in seven games to bring to Cup back to Boston for the first time in 39 years. He would earn 11 assists in the process. He would celebrate in style, bringing the Cup back to his native Czech Republic. The following season, Kaberle signed with the Carolina Hurricanes where his career quickly took a downturn.
11 Claude Lemieux
Early in the 1999-00 season Claude Lemieux was traded back to the team whom he had won the Stanley Cup with back in 1995 and had won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Lemieux was shipped to Jersey in November that season, in exchange for Brian Rolston. Lemieux would win his fourth and final Cup with the Devils that season, before signing with Phoenix the following summer as a free agent. His 2000 tenure with the Devils included 17 goals in the regular season and 10 points in 23 playoff games.
10 Marian Gaborik
Marian Gaborik is a well-known name in the NHL. The Slovakian star did his rounds in the NHL, impressing everyone with his skill and raw scoring ability. He’s played for four different NHL teams, find success with all of them, but never getting close enough to feel Lord Stanley’s cold, smooth touch.
But then March 4, 2014 came. That would be the day history changed for Gaborik. Acquired by the Los Angeles Kings to add a little punch to their offense as the playoffs were looming, Gaborik would be a game-changer. His 14 goals led everyone in the playoffs, and the Kings would end up cruising past Gaborik’s old team, the Rangers, for their second Stanley Cup in three years. Gaborik decided to not be just a rental anymore and chose to stay in Los Angeles following the championship.
9 Brad Stuart
Brad Stuart played for a number of teams during his NHL career. The defenseman still plays in the league today for the Colorado Avalanche. Today he is a veteran valued by his experience more than anything, but when he joined Detroit near the deadline in 2008, he was a top two defenseman, a force to be reckoned with. It also proved to be a winning ingredient for Detroit, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that year over the Sidney Crosby and the Detroit Red Wings. Stuart then chose to re-sign with the Wings on a multi-year deal.
8 Butch Goring
Although some of you may not be familiar with Butch Goring, in th 1970’s he was one of the most complete players in the league. He would play the first almost decade of his career with the Los Angeles Kings, before being traded at the deadline to the New York Islanders. This was huge at the time, especially for the Islanders. Bringing in Goring was supposed to be the last piece of the puzzle for the Stnaley Cup.
And he was. He joined the Islanders with just a few games remaining in 1980, and went on to score 19 points in 21 playoff games in what was the first of four consecutive cups for the Islanders.
7 Larry Murphy
This is the first of two times you’ll see Murphy on this list. Larry Murphy was traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Red Wings in 1997 with just a handful of games remaining in the regular season. Detroit was preparing for a deep run, and who better to have on your roster than a two-time Stanley Cup champion with tons of experience and talent. Murphy would be instrumental to the Detroit line-up, pushing Detroit to a Stanley Cup victory. They would win the Cup the following year as well.
6 Craig Mactavish
Craig Mactavish is widely known today as the coach and General Manager that couldn’t get the Oilers out of the league basement. But during his playing career, Mactavish did the rounds, was a good player and a great leader that won his fair share of Stanley Cups. Most of his career was spent with the Oilers, but with just a few games remaining in 1994 he was traded to the New York Rangers.
His stint with the Rangers was short. He came just in time to help a few former Oilers (Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier), win the cup in New York. He would be traded to the Flyers the following season.
5 Antoine Vermette
Vermette is a perfect example of a rental player. He won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks the year after being traded at the deadline. He would manage only three assists for the remainder of the season, promting many to say that this move end up being a flop for the Blackhawks. But then the playoffs came around.
Vermette proved to be instrumental in the playoffs, particularly in the final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he would net two of his three game-winning goals in the entire playoffs. Vermette would lift the Cup that year, only to sign back with the Coyotes – the same team that sent him to the Blackhawks – for a two-year contract worth $7.5 million.
4 Bill Guerin
Bill Guerin won the Stanley Cup early in his career with the New Jersey Devils back in 1995, but would go through a long drought until his next Stanley Cup. For a player with over 400 career goals, the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins felt his presence would lift them over the top. Guerin was traded from the Islanders to the Penguins and would score 15 points in the playoffs, helping the Pens to a Stanley Cup. Guerin then decided to stay in Pittsburgh an extra season before retiring from the NHL.
3 Doug Weight
Doug Weight enjoyed a successful NHL career, recording a career total of 1,033 points in 1,238 games. He was captain of the Edmonton Oilers for several years, but his one Stanley Cup came by beating his former team in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. The Hurricanes acquired Weight near the deadline from St. Louis and he would prove to be a big piece. Weight would record 16 points in the Canes playoff run that year, winning his first and only Cup. Weight would then sign right back with the Blues the following season.
2 Rob Blake
Rob Blake had a long and illustrious career in the NHL as one of the league’s top defenseman. However, he would win only one Stanley Cup – with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. After 11 years with the L.A. Kings, Blake would make an immediate impact with the Cup-hungry avalanche, scoring 10 points in the final 13 games of the season, and 19 points in 23 playoff games to secure the Cup. Because of his performance in the playoffs, Blake would play more seasons with the Avalanche before going back to Los Angeles.
1 Mark Recchi
This man needs no introduction, as he is one of the most respected and talented players to ever bless the NHL. Mark Recchi is as classy as they get, being one of the few players to ever win three Stanley Cups with three different teams. The positive influence on his teammates is undeniable, which is why coaches wanted Recchi in their dressing room.
In 2006, Recchi played with the Penguins, who were consequently out of a playoff position. He would therefore wave his no trade clause and go to the Carolina Hurricanes, who would consequently win the Cup that year, with the help of Recchi’s 16 points. He would then be traded back to the Penguins the following year.
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