New York Rangers surprise trade of Brendan Lemieux was not that shocking; eventually need to make room for Morgan Barron

The Rangers stunned some fans in New York with the unexpected trade of gritty forward Brendan Lemieux to the Kings for a 4th round pick. As to why they did it, all you have to do is look at their roster and the current situation with the team.

Breaking down why the Rangers traded Lemieux

In the team’s first game since the trade, Phil Di Giuseppe was inserted into Lemieux’s spot on the 4th line. Next up will be Brett Howden as he comes off the COVID list. The question will be who would come out for him if he’s inserted into the lineup? Kevin Rooney appears to have cemented the 4th line center spot, and how do you scratch Colin Blackwell after his two goal performance against the Capitals yesterday? Simply put you don’t. I expect Howden to be a healthy scratch when he comes back.

Let’s just quickly summarize why Lemieux was traded:

  • Carrying three goalies for fear that Keith Kinkaid will be claimed off waivers
  • Players returning from COVID list (Brett Howden, Phil Di Giuseppe)
  • The pending move of Vitali Kravtsov from Taxi to Roster (someone was going to have to go through waivers)
  • Brendan Lemieux being lost for nothing in the expansion draft

As you can see, this isn’t rocket science and I probably should have analyzed the roster to realize this was coming. The Rangers have 22 of 23 roster spots full and can add Vitali Kravtsov without potentially losing someone to waivers after trading Lemieux.

brendan lemieux
Mar 19, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) exchanges words with New York Rangers left wing Brendan Lemieux (48) in the second period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Need to make room for Morgan Barron

Forever Blueshirts also learned that the Rangers expect tp promote prized prospect Morgan Barron from the AHL to the roster later this season. The 22 year-old winger/center is playing extremely well in Hartford. In 12 games this season he has 7 goals and 10 points with a +5 rating.

Among AHL rookies his 7 goals ties him for second and his four power play goals are tied for fourth among all AHLers. Barron has also been a consistent scorer for the Wolf Pack with points in nine of the 12 games they’ve played so far this season.

With all this under consideration, you can see that regardless of playoff standings the Blueshirts are likely to make more moves before the trade deadline. Defenseman Brendan Smith has also been added to our NHL Trade Bait Tracker. He’s a possible trade to make room for Barron. If the Rangers want to also recall Tarmo Reunanen, expect another move as well.