NHL Power Rankings: Best ‘one-year rentals’ in NHL history

NHL Power Rankings
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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at the best players that spent just one season with a team.

There were a handful of significant players that changed teams this offseason that could one day find themselves as part of such a ranking (Taylor Hall, Henrik Lundqvist, Brandon Saad). With that in mind, we decided to take a look back at some of the notable and most impactful examples throughout NHL history.

We were looking for players that played one season or less with a team. This could have been the result of a free agent signing, an offseason trade, or a trade deadline deal. Either way: It could only be part of one season.

Which players make our list?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

Elite impact

1. Chris Pronger, Edmonton Oilers (2005-06). Edmonton fans might hate him for demanding a trade after one year, but what a year it was! This was peak Pronger when every team he went to immediately became a Stanley Cup contender. His one year in Edmonton, they went to the Stanley Cup Final. He goes to the Ducks, they win the Stanley Cup his first year. He goes to the Flyers, they go to the Stanley Cup Final in his first year. Pronger played 30 minutes per game, shut down everybody, and was a force offensively. A laughably dominant player.

2. Scott Stevens, St. Louis Blues (1990-91). Stevens get a high placement on the list not only because he was great during his one year with the Blues, but also for what it meant to the NHL landscape. He signed in St. Louis as a restricted free agent and became the highest paid defenseman in the league. One year later, the Blues signed Brendan Shanahan (also an RFA!) away from the New Jersey Devils, requiring compensation. Because the Blues’ first-round picks were going to Washington for signing Stevens, the two teams had to work out another deal. An arbitrator awarded Stevens to the Devils.

3. Dominik Hasek, Ottawa Senators (2005-06). In his 43 starts with the Senators he went 28-10-4 and had a .925 save percentage (second best in the league) all at the age of 41. Had he not suffered a season-ending injury at the 2006 Olympics he may have taken this Senators team to a Stanley Cup (they lost in the Second Round with Ray Emery in goal).

[MORE: ProHockeyTalk Free Agency Tracker]

4. Cory Stillman, Tampa Bay Lightning (2003-04). Maybe you do not remember his one year in Tampa Bay, but Lightning fans certainly should. He finished with 80 points in 81 games (eighth in the league), had 55 assists (second most in the league, one off the lead), was the team’s second-leading scorer, and did all of that for a Stanley Cup winning team.

5. Marian Hossa, Detroit Red Wings (2008-09). Hossa actually has two one-year stops that standout on his resume, but the 2008-09 season was the best. He signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings and scored 40 goals in 74 games for the defending Stanley Cup champions. The season ended in disappointment though when he lost to the team he left (Pittsburgh) in the Stanley Cup Final. His brief time in Pittsburgh is also worthy of attention for helping that team also reach the Stanley Cup Final. It was all part of a three-year stretch where he played in the Stanley Cup Final three years in a row with three different teams (Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago).

Yes they played here

6. Theo Fleury, Colorado Avalanche (1998-99). He only played 33 games in Colorado (regular season and playoffs) after being acquired at the trade deadline, but he dominated in those games. He scored 15 goals with 26 assists (41 total points) for an Avalanche team that was one game away from the Stanley Cup Final.

7. Sergei Zubov, Pittsburgh Penguins (1995-96). He had 66 points in 64 games on a Penguins team that dominated the league offensively. He should have been a perfect — PERFECT! — long-term fit with this team. But because he and Mario Lemieux did not click on the power play where they both wanted to run the show, Zubov was traded for Kevin Hatcher after one season.

8. Wayne Gretzky, St. Louis Blues (1995-96). The forgotten portion of Gretzky’s career. The Blues hoped he could be the missing piece for a potential championship, but Steve Yzerman dashed those dreams in the playoffs with Gretzky having a front row seat for it. Including playoffs, he only played 31 games for the Blues but was the team’s leading scorer (37 points) during that stretch.

9. Luc Robitaille, Pittsburgh Penguins (1994-95). Easy to forget as a Penguin because it was only one year in a lockout shortened season. He was excellent that year and also played a key role in the movie Sudden Death, so there is that.

10. Pat LaFontaine, New York Rangers (1997-98). What could have been. LaFontaine was great in his one year with the Rangers, but his career came to an end here due to concussion issues. He is the only player to ever play for all three New York teams. He played his entire NHL career in the Empire state.

Great seasons you might forget about

11. Robin Lehner, New York Islanders (2018-19). He backstopped the Islanders to a shocking Second Round playoff run in a season where nobody had any expectations for them at the start.

12. Vincent Damphouse, Edmonton Oilers (1991-92). Even after Gretzky and Mark Messier, the Oilers still made the Conference Final during the 1991-92 season. Damphouse was the driving force behind that run. He was traded to Montreal after that season.

13. Steve Duchesne, Quebec Nordiques (1992-93). Part of Quebec’s bounty in the Eric Lindros trade. He finished with 82 points in 82 games and a seventh place finish in the Norris Trophy voting in his one year with the Nordiques.

14. Jaromir Jagr, Philadelphia Flyers (2011-12). After three years in the KHL Jagr returned to the NHL, turned down his original team (Pittsburgh), signed with its cross-state rival, then helped eliminate them in the first round. Oh, he was also really good that year.

15. Jarome Iginla, Boston Bruins (2013-14). The Bruins missed out on Iginla at the 2013 trade deadline (he went to Pittsburgh) and then signed him the following offseason. He scored 30 goals in his one year with the Bruins.

16. Wendel Clark, New York Islanders/Quebec Nordiques (1994-95/1995-96). The real noteworthy aspect is the trades Clark was involved in. Quebec sent Mats Sundin to Toronto for him, and then after one year traded him to the Islanders for Claude Lemieux. That was a major trade for the Avalanche. Midway through his year on Long Island, the Islanders traded him to Toronto for a draft pick that was used to select Roberto Luongo.

The true rentals

17. Brian Campbell, San Jose Sharks (2007-08). An outstanding player that was never fully appreciated. The Sharks gave up a lot to get him at the 2008 trade deadline, and he was awesome in the stretch run (19 points in 20 regular season games; fifth place Norris Trophy finish) and playoffs. He signed a massive contract with Chicago the following offseason and was a key part of the 2010 Stanley Cup winning team.

18. Mark Recchi, Carolina Hurricanes (2005-06). A trade deadline pickup that was a solid role player on a Stanley Cup winning team.

19. Doug Weight, Carolina Hurricanes (2005-06). Another trade deadline pickup that another solid role player on the same Stanley Cup winning team.

20. Peter Forsberg, Nashville Predators (2006-07). This was an outstanding Predators team (third best record in the league) that looked poised to take a serious run at the Stanley Cup. Forsberg was at the end of his career, but he still made a nice impact. Unfortunately their playoff run was just five games, being eliminated by the San Jose Sharks.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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