Bringing in a rental is what playoff-bound teams, like the New York Islanders do at the trade deadline. But looking a the success such a strategy has had, it may not be so wise.
With a five-point gap at the top of the Metropolitan Division, the New York Islanders are all but guaranteed to make the playoffs in 2019. That would be the first time in three years for the Islanders.
Naturally, they’ll want to bring in players to maximize their chances at succeeding int he post-season. The trade deadline is where NHL teams do so, and typically that means first-round picks are sent around the league for players on expiring contracts; rentals.
Looking at the number of times a trade was made for a rental (when a first-round pick was involved) it’s rarely worked.
Why It’s Not A Good Idea
The Athletic’s Darren Haynes (subscription required) recently poured through NHL trade history for the number of times a rental was acquired in exchange for a first-round pick. What Darren found is that over the last 15 years 29 rentals were acquired and it worked (as in helped to win a Stanley Cup) twice.
If you want to drill that down further (and I’m sure you do). Haynes showed that teams who acquired a rental performed positively in the playoffs, as in did better in the playoffs than would have been expected based on their rank, 35 percent of the time. Sounds high, right? But also consider that teams performed negatively, as in did worse in the playoffs based on their rank, 41 percent of the time.
(Read Haynes’ piece to see his methodology for establishing how a team was expected to perform in the playoffs.)
In Relation To Islanders
Thinking of the Islanders trade deadline activity, it’s easy to see how this is relatable. With the New York Islanders in the best position they’ve been in for years, it’s easy to say: “let’s go for it now” by bringing in a rental.
That’s fair. When success is knocking at the door fans don’t want to think their team didn’t do enough to get to that door and open it.
Bringing in a rental player is typically seen as, I’m going to continue with the couch metaphor here, the team getting off the couch to see who’s at the door. But what Darren Haynes points out, is that over the last 15 years it rarely works out.
It calls into question the thought of bringing in a rental. If it rarely works why do it?
Even when it comes to a player like Artemi Panarin. When you factor how much the Islanders will have to pay via trade and with the risk that it might not be that positive. It might not be the best move for the Islanders.
(If your argument is that the only way to get Panarin long-term is through trade, then I can concede. But then that’s not truly a rental if the aim is to keep him long-term.)
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I doubt this will convince anyone who wants the New York Islanders to pick up a rental at the trade deadline to change their mind. But hopefully, this will help explain why some might be apprehensive to bring in a rental, like me.