Exploring Rental players

Rental players are basically why the trade deadline has become such a big event to follow on a yearly basis. Contenders around the NHL spend the day acquiring players with expiring deals for their playoff runs while non-playoff teams attempt to acquire pieces to use as a foundation for their inevitable rebuild.

You might say that Joe Corvo is the perfect example of a rental. The mobile, puck moving defenseman has worn six different uniforms during his career – including three separate stints in Carolina – and has been twice traded at the deadline and once more in the summer. Corvo has the type of marketable traits that playoff teams often seek at the deadline. He can contribute offensively and can provide help to a team’s powerplay as well.

Other players often sought at the deadline include stay-at-home defensemen and anyone that might qualify as secondary scorers. The deadline has become all about finding that spare part that will get a team running at full steam and rental players have become the perfect quick fix.

As for the Sabres, whose playoff chances look bleak, finding rental talent will mean a lot less than shipping off some of their rental players. However, as a team that could potentially have an equal interest in acquiring talent as selling it, there could be a few names on the free agent list that could gain attention from Darcy Regier.

There is a host of pending free agents that will likely remain unsigned by April 3 and will garner plenty of attention before the deadline officially passes in three weeks.

Corey Perry

He’s the biggest name who is set to hit free agency this summer. Re-signing Ryan Getzlaf didn’t seal Perry’s fate as a free agent departure, but it makes it more likely than him sticking around. However, the Ducks have basically kept pace with Chicago this year and are in far more of a buying position than one of selling as the deadline approaches. The argument surrounding Perry is about whether or not the Ducks should hold onto him at the risk of losing him for nothing.

What’s his value: Perry is a big, dynamic goal scorer who has plenty of time left in his career. He will command upwards of $8 million this summer but is valuable enough to bring in a significant roster player, prospect and draft pick. Basically any package that has been swapped for a marquee talent is what you would need to give up for Perry at the deadline.

What does it mean for Buffalo: Perry would bring a great wrinkle to the Sabres roster and is certainly someone they will push hard for this summer. Grabbing him at the deadline would be risky for two reasons. First, the Sabres would need to sacrifice quite a bit and the futures that would need to be involved (likely Brayden McNabb) would make acquiring a free agent a dicey choice. Second, bringing him onto a struggling team might not be the best way to market him on the team for the future. Don’t count on the Sabres making a play for Perry before July.

Jarome Iginla

Like Perry, Iginla is going to garner a ton of interest. Not only is he a natural born leader but he is a lethal goal scorer. His no trade clause limits the potential locations for him to land, but Jay Feaster may be able to convince him to depart in a way to help the club rebuild. The Flames may also keep him should they make a surge towards a playoff spot. The big question mark remains the no trade clause. Any move would need to be cleared by Iginla, which would only be to a serious contender, if anyone.

What’s his value: Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune quoted the asking price as a top-four defensive prospect, a roster player and a draft pick. That is what we’ll work with as that’s fair market price for a player of this ilk. Similar to Perry in that way, Perry’s age might allow the Ducks to ask for a bit more, however.

What does it mean for Buffalo: Nothing. Iginla may have been a target a year or two ago but isn’t the type of guy the Sabres would benefit from acquiring at this stage in his career and considering where the franchise stands.

Brenden Morrow

Morrow fits more as one of those “typical” rental players thanks to the fact that he’s basically a Swiss Army Knife in many ways. His leadership skills reflect his style of play which can be used in many ways at even strength, on the power play and penalty kill. Morrow’s injury history will likely scare off many teams and could even hurt his trade value. However, he has the type of intangibles many teams covet and his brief playoff experience in Dallas is complimented by his time with the Canadian Olympic team in 2010.

What’s his value: I’d gather that Morrow could certainly garner a relatively valuable draft pick from a team and potentially even a handsome package of a respected prospect and pick. Bear in mind that Paul Gaustad was worth a first round pick last season and Morrow offers more than Gaustad in a number of ways.

What does it mean for Buffalo: Morrow, like Perry, is someone that the Sabres probably wouldn’t consider until the summer. That is if they even consider him as an option. Morrow could certainly add some maturity and accountability to the Sabres room, but there are only so many spots along the middle-six for the Sabres. Don’t count on seeing him in blue and gold.

Lubomir Visnovsky

Visnovsky, he of the group of European defensemen who dislike playing on Long Island, is a pending UFA who has a fairly impressive resume behind him. Only two seasons ago he was a major piece of Anaheim’s success. Visnovsky is basically a European version of Joe Corvo with perhaps a little more defensive acumen. He would certainly be valuable to a number of teams and the Islanders would certainly like to get some sort of return for him considering he and Mark Streit are both set to become unrestricted free agents. Streit could potentially become a trade target should his contract talks hit an impasse.

What’s his value: Visnovsky has suddenly become a cancerous player after acting like a spoiled brat after his departure from Anaheim. He’s still worth a relatively valuable pick, if not one in the first three rounds depending on who is searching.

What does this mean for Buffalo: Nothing. Literally nothing. He won’t even be on Darcy’s radar in April or this summer.

Mike Ribeiro

Ribeiro just signed in Washington this summer and has played well. He’s a shifty, offensively gifted center. He’s a great second line addition for a team searching for more offense. However, the Caps have struggled all year and they could be in need of some building blocks. If George McPhee can find a taker I would imagine he’ll listen to offers for Ribeiro.

What’s his value: Draft picks for sure. A year or two ago may have seen him garner a handsome package, but I’d be surprised if he brought more than a prospect and a pick at the very most.

What does this mean for Buffalo: Like Visnovsky, nothing. The Sabres are in need of a two-way center and Ribeiro isn’t that type of player.

Ryane Clowe

Clowe is an interesting player. Cast in the mold of Morrow in some ways, he is a gritty, two-way talent who can offer solid offensive contributions. He’s had an ugly year and has likely hurt his value because of this. However, his make-up is exactly the type of player so many teams seek. As a talented power forward I wouldn’t be surprised to see him moved. Of course, the Sharks may want to get him re-signed for a few more years, too.

What’s his value: A year or two ago he probably would have required a roster player type transaction. He probably could still garner that type of return but not of the same talent level as in 2010.

What does this mean for Buffalo: Should Clowe hit the market this summer I wouldn’t be too surprised if the Sabres took a shot at him. However I don’t think he’d be worth sacrificing picks or prospects for, not for a team who needs to build.

Robyn Regehr/Jordan Leopold

These final two are current Sabres who are quite possibly the two most likely to get shipped out of Buffalo by the deadline. Regehr will need to shed his no trade clause to be moved, but he’s such a steady presence on the blue line that any team in the running will have some interest. Leopold’s two-way talent makes him an attractive option (as he has been at three other deadlines) despite his struggles this season.

What’s their value: Both are worth picks at this point. However, if Regehr closes out this next few weeks well and the market adjusts, he could be worth a whole lot more. Perhaps Regier could get a mid-level prospect for one of the two, but I wouldn’t expect much more than that.

What does this mean for Buffalo: Well, it clears two spots on the blueline that were expected to open up this summer anyway. This would give Adam Pardy an automatic ticket to the show for the rest of the year (that is if he isn’t traded) along with Brayden McNabb. Long term, trading these two could give Darcy Regier two more draft picks that could potentially be dealt at a later date in the event he’s looking to cobble together a larger package deal with another team.


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