Brendan Lemieux is more of what the Rangers need to win
The New York Rangers acquired Brendan Lemieux in the Kevin Hayes trade at last season’s deadline. A move that flew under the radar at the time. Everyone was more focused on the Rangers adding another first round pick which they sent back to Winnipeg for Jacob Trouba last summer. However, the moment Lemieux stepped on the ice wearing Rangers Blue, eyes started to open.
Brendan Lemieux made an impression
Statistically speaking, Lemieux notched just 3 goals and 6 points in 19 games after the trade. Surely not jaw dropping at first glance, until you dig deeper and see the 44 penalty minutes (very few of them of the cheap variety), 2 fighting majors, and 48 hits. This was done averaging around 12 minutes under David Quinn while being moved up and down the lineup.
Coming into this season the Rangers lacked a player with this much sandpaper among their forwards, and after losing to Carolina that is still the case.
On defense, Jacob Trouba is as tough as they come and can scrap with some of the best fighters, but you don’t want him doing it too often and risk injury.
That’s where Lemieux comes in, and obviously fighting is down league wide but he certainly makes his presence known as he was tied for 4th in the NHL with 5 majors. He added another in the Return to Play exhibition match for good measure.
Brendan Lemieux: Fire and Ice
Lemieux set career highs on many individual statistics before the NHL pause. The 23 year-old gritty winger had 18 points on the season in 59 games. That surpasses his 17 points in 63 games last year. When it comes to the stats that really matter for a player like Lemieux, he had 164 hits on the season, only Jacob Trouba’s 173 has more for the Blueshirts.
The feisty Lemieux also amassed personal best 111 penalty minutes including a team leading 5 fighting majors, and didn’t avoid the league’s heavyweights. That was proven when he went mano-a-mano with Caps bruiser, Tom Wilson.
Forecasting Lemieux’s next deal
Of course hitting and fighting certainly means more when you can chip in offensively. That’s what makes the best agitators effective, just remember who Brendan’s dad is. Lemieux has shown the skills to score, enough so that David Quinn has used him on the 2nd PP unit playing a similar role to Chris Kreider on the 1st. On top of his impressive grit stats, he has 2 goals and 5 points on the man advantage plus 1 goal and 2 points shorthanded.
All and all this 2nd year player has proven that he will only get better from here. When the off-season comes, the Rangers and Lemieux could come to an agreement on at least a 2 year bridge deal for the RFA. Speculating on the AAV will likely be around the $2-2.5M range, which will look like a bargain as he cements himself as a 3rd liner who will be a boon to both the PP and PK units.
The issue of the flat-cap could also rear its ugly head and force Lemieux to file for arbitration and work out a one-year show me deal for less than $2 million as well. However, the Rangers need to understand that they must get tougher to play against.
Too many skilled players isn’t going to win in the playoffs, just ask the Maple Leafs. New York must strike the right balance and Lemieux will help with that.