Brendan Lemieux earliest beneficiary of Namestnikov trade
Brendan Lemieux will get more minutes today with his promotion to the third line after the Rangers traded away Vlad Namestnikov last week. While some may assume that Gregg McKegg is the real beneficiary of the move when he makes his Rangers debut today, it is really the fiery winger.
Let’s be clear about this, the 23 year old earned this spot even before Namestnikov was traded. David Quinn was already promoting him in Ottawa so this isn’t a surprise. Lemieux will be playing important minutes with Brett Howden and Jesper Fast and that line should bring a ton of energy to the contest today against the high flying Oilers.
Prior to being dealt to the Rangers, Lemieux averaged 7:30 of ice time in 53 games with the Winnipeg Jets. Since then he has gotten more minutes with the Blueshirts and in two games this season is averaging 11:21. That should increase today with the promotion but also the opponent. Quinn will likely be deploying Lemieux against players like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the red-hot James Neal to get them off their game.
The Abrasion Equation
The wingers abrasive style is perfect when playing an offensive powerhouse loaded with talent. If Lemieux is successful in agitating those types of players, it could either;
A: Take them off their game
B: Force them to retaliate and take bad penalties
C: If you’re lucky…both!
David Quinn has said Lemieux is a throwback and that he’s the type of player that annoys both teams with his mouth. The beauty is Lemieux can back it up with his physical play and has no fear of throwing the mitts. Plus there’s the added bonus that the kid can play and contribute offensively.
We know that the Rangers will be looking to make more roster moves and call up both Filip Chytil and Vitali Kravtsov this season. I do expect Chytil to be here sooner rather than later, but that will impact Ryan Strome more directly than Lemieux.
Ultimately his longterm Blueshirts’ future could be on the 4th line, but if the Rangers don’t hold on to Chris Kreider next season, Lemieux could solidify himself as the 3rd line LW. Regardless, this is a huge opportunity for the son of one the NHL All-Time great agitators in Claude Lemieux to unabashedly make an impression.