Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Nashville have suffered from ‘Rental Flops’ this year

Updated: April 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm by Cam Lewis

It’s always a gamble when you move future assets for rental players at the Trade Deadline. The hope is that the player you bring in for a few months can be the one to push your team over the top and either help you make the playoffs, or go all the way to the Stanley Cup. If that doesn’t happen, you’re stuck watching another team enjoy your prospects and draft picks as the player you rented looks for a big contract through free agency. This year, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh have seen some pretty disappointing results for players they paid high prices for. 

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks traded their first round pick in 2015 and defenceman Klas Dahlbeck to the Arizona Coyotes for Antoine Vermette, and they also traded their second round pick in 2015 and another conditional pick in 2016 depending on how they do in the playoffs to the Philadelphia Flyers for veteran defenceman Kimmo Timonen. Timonen was supposed to provide some depth and experience on the blue line and Vermette was expected to be a solution for the second line centre position. As of right now, the Hawks certainly haven’t received enough value for what they gave up. 

Timonen is being eased back into the game since he hasn’t played all year, through 16 games with the Hawks he has no points and averages 11:59 minutes of ice time per game. He also only has 10 shots on goals in those 16 games and only 17 shots on net attempted. The Hawks are also averaging a much higher CorsiFor percentage when he isn’t on the ice than when he is, but this could be because he makes roughly 56 per cent of his starts in the defensive zone. This trade was made to provide depth on defence so that inexperienced players like David Rundblad would have a fall back net come playoff time, but as of right now, it doesn’t look like Timonen is going to provide much for the Hawks’ playoff run. 

Vermette, on the other hand, has been a much bigger flop due to the hefty price the Hawks paid to get him. Dahlbeck, a solid defensive minded defenceman, has looked pretty decent in his 16 games with the Coyotes so far, and we all know how valuable first round picks are in the cap age, especially for a team like the Hawks. In 18 games with Chicago, Vermette has yet to score a goal and has only three assists. He was primarily brought in to help on the penalty kill and to take important face-offs, but his 51.4 face-off percentage is quite a bit lower than the ~57 per cent face-off numbers he’s put up over the past three years with the Coyotes. His CorsiFor% in relation to his teammates is really low considering he starts just about as many shifts in the offensive zone as he does in the defensive zone. 

These deals look pretty ugly for the Haws so far, but of course, all of that goes out the window if they can have a good playoff run. But if they do get bounced in the first round, giving up their first two picks in a really deep draft for two players who haven’t helped the team at all will sting. 

Nashville Predators:

The Predators sent the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Brendan Leipsic, Olli Jokinen and their first round pick in 2015 for Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson, which was the only move they made leading up to the deadline aside from sending Derek Roy to the Oilers. At the time, the Predators were in the hunt for the President’s Trophy and wanted to add some depth for a deep playoff run. The Preds still look pretty solid heading into the playoffs, the acquisitions of Franson and Santorelli have done nothing for them while Leipsic has been a nice pick up for the Leafs, as he has six goals and 14 points in 22 games with the Marlies.

Franson had six goals and 26 assists in 55 games with the Leafs before being traded, with four goals and 11 assists coming on the power play. He also averaged 21:33 minutes per game with the Leafs before being dealt. Since joining the Predators, Franson only has one goals and three assists while averaging 15:25 minutes per game. His numbers look pretty awful, especially considering the production he had on a much weaker Leafs team earlier this year, but Franson hasn’t played all that badly. The issue here is that Nashville is heavily underutilizing him. Franson starts 56 per cent of his even strength shifts in the defensive zone and still has a CorsiFor% of 57.7, which is really good in relation to his teammates. Through his 23 games, he has 63 shot attempts, but only nine on the power play, which somewhat paints a picture of how he’s being used in Nashville. 

Santorelli has definitely been a much bigger flop than Franson, as he only has one goal and three assists through 21 games despite having 11 goals and 18 assists in 57 games with the Leafs. Santorelli has an even 50.0 CorsiFor%, which is pretty mediocre in relation to his teammates, but he starts 60 per cent of his shifts in the defensive zone. This is bizarre considering they brought him in to provide offence, but they’re using him as a heavy lifter defensively. 

It’s inevitable that Franson’s numbers were going to go down playing behind Shea Weber and Roman Josi, but it’s pretty obvious that the Preds aren’t really utilizing him at all. He’s getting virtually no opportunities on the power play and a good chunk of his starts come in the offensive zone. Despite that, he’s still putting up good possession numbers in relation to his teammates. The reason for this flop has been Nashville’s management of Franson and Santorelli. Still, though, like Chicago, if Nashville can have a deep run this year, the first round pick and Leipsic won’t sting as much. 

Pittsburgh Penguins: 

These ones aren’t really rentals, but the Penguins made a few trades this year that made the team older, and worse than it was before. Overall, they moved their first and fourth round picks in 2015, their second round pick in 2016, Rob Klinkhammer, Zach Sill, Simon Despres, and Rob Bortuzzo for Daniel Winnik, Ian Cole, Ben Lovejoy, and David Perron. Perron and Lovejoy have one year left before becoming Unrestricted Free Agents, while Winnik is a UFA this summer and Cole is an RFA. Considering the way the Pens have played down the stretch, it’s safe to say it wasn’t worth moving young assets and draft picks for these players. 

Winnik only has two goals and two assists in 20 games since joining the Pens despite having a 56.5 CorsiFor percentage. Like everyone on the Penguins, Winnik can’t score despite getting chances and having solid possession stats. His shooting percentage has dropped from 10.0 to 7.7 since leaving Toronto, and his PDO has dropped from 104.5 to 100.6. Perron looked good when he first joined the team, but he only has three goals and three assists since the beginning of March. Like Winnik, though, Perron has a solid 57.5 CorsiFor%, but doesn’t have much in terms of production to show for it. While Cole has been decent, losing Bortuzzo has made the Pens’ blue line a lot softer, and Lovejoy has been a downgrade from Despres and will continue to be in the future. 

If the Penguins lose today and miss the playoffs, these trades, especially the Perron one, are going to look really bad. Obviously there are deeper issues in Pittsburgh than a the trades they made at the deadline, but it’s pretty clear they haven’t seen much production or value from they players they got considering the relatively hefty price they paid. 

Thanks to Hockey Reference for the stats.