Suspension hurts Brendan Lemieux more than the Rangers
Don’t misconstrue the headline. The Rangers would be better off with Brendan Lemieux in the lineup. I have spoke highly of Lemieux’s game since they landed him at the trade deadline last year. This suspension however, hurts him more than it does the Rangers.
Not a good time for Lemieux to be out of the lineup
If Brendan Lemieux was not suspended, he would be starting at leftwing on either the third or fourth line. Matter of fact, he had some good chemistry this season with Kaapo Kakko and would look good there right now.
As it stands today, for at least the first two games of the qualifying round, Phil Di Giuseppe will play with Filip Chytil and Kakko. The fourth line will have Greg McKegg on the left, centered by Brett Howden and rightwing, Julien Gauthier.
The problem for Lemieux is simple, if the team wins the first two games and both Di Giuseppe and McKegg play solid, Lemieux may not play for awhile. David Quinn is not the type of coach who messes with a winning lineup.
Longterm ramifications for Lemieux
Should Brendan Lemieux not get into any playoff action this summer, it could hurt him in a few ways. To a lesser extent, it could impact his place on the team’s depth chart. However, like I’ve written before the Rangers do not have a forward like him in their organization.
The more immediate impact to Lemieux will be financial. He is an RFA with arbitration rights this offseason. If he doesn’t get into some serious post season action, it will be difficult for him to get that deal he was hoping to land with the Rangers.
Fire and Ice
Lemieux set career highs on many individual statistics before the NHL pause. The 23 year-old in-your-face 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 has 164 hits on the season, only Jacob Trouba’s 173 had more for the Blueshirts. The feisty winger also amassed a 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.
Of course, hitting and fighting certainly means more when you can chip in offensively. That’s what makes the best agitators effective, just remember Brendan’s dad is legendary pest Claude Lemieux.
Brendan has shown the skills to score. David Quinn has used him on the 2nd PP unit in a similar role to Chris Kreider on the 1st causing chaos in front. On top of his impressive grit stats, he has 2 goals and 5 points on the man advantage plus 1 goal and 1 assist shorthanded.
All and all, this 2nd year player has proven that he will only get better from here. When the off-season comes, I was predicting the Rangers and Lemieux will come to an agreement on at least a 2 year bridge deal. Speculating on the AAV would 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.
Now that is all in jeopardy for the fiery winger thanks to this untimely suspension.