Thoughts on the Brendan Lemieux trade

Late yesterday, the Rangers traded winger Brendan Lemieux to the LA Kings for a 4th round pick. It’s a relatively minor deal in the grand scheme of things, as it’s a fourth liner for a mid round draft pick. Lemieux had been playing relatively poorly of late, which was funny given the timing of me calling him an elite fourth liner. Guess he took offense to that? Anyway, I have some thoughts on the Brendan Lemieux trade.

1. As for Lemieux the player, he fell off a cliff the last month and a half in terms of performance. The stats, as of February 11, showed he was playing very well in his role, and his penalty differential was going to help keep him as a valuable fourth liner. Unfortunately, he started taking stupid penalties, making bad plays with the puck, and was just overall bad. It happens. But at $1.55 million this year and next, you can’t do that.

2. That segues into the cap hit. This is a big win for the Rangers. They shed cap space immediately for Vitali Kravtsov to play either today or Tuesday. It also clears the cap space for a Morgan Barron call up. Barron was starting to force the Rangers’ hand in the AHL, as he’s been dominant as both a winger and a center, where he played the last two games. This also frees up cap space for a trade this year, if needed.

3. I am intrigued to see how the lineup shakes out today. Phil Di Giuseppe was just cleared off COVID protocol, so my guess is he slides in today while Kravtsov joins the team Tuesday. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see a “surprise” insertion of Kravtsov into the lineup today. Not the ideal scenario for a rookie, the second of a back to back, while away, against a top team in the division. But crazier things have happened.

4. This also has expansion draft implications. I believe this means the Rangers must expose both Kevin Rooney and Colin Blackwell to meet expansion draft requirements. I know we were joking about protecting them over Ryan Strome and Julien Gauthier, but that was always far fetched. Both Strome and Gauthier have shown they should be protected, and you always expose the fourth liners over the skill guys. That’s just common sense.

5. The Rangers aren’t going to miss Lemieux’s “toughness” on the ice. Fights are few and far between nowadays, so that’s not a factor. If you’re taking toughness in terms of grinding and hits, then Ryan Lindgren, Brendan Smith, and Chris Kreider are still here. To me, toughness is willing to get into the corners and take a hit to make a play. Most, if not all, the Rangers do that.

6. In terms of shedding salary, clearing roster space, and not losing anything of significant value, the Rangers hit a homerun here. I know my thoughts on the Brendan Lemieux trade have been that this is a minor trade, but it does have some pretty significant off-ice value.

7. One last thing – I know people were joking about some other off-ice factors involving Tony DeAngelo. I don’t think that had any role to play here. This was strictly about an expensive fourth line winger who was playing poorly and quickly losing on-ice value for the Rangers. That’s it.

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  • I think that sums it all up pretty well. Gauthier merits protection over Lemieux, but to be honest I don’t see him thriving in his role as DQ’s 4th line/13th forward whipping boy.

    I liked the trade for Lemieux originally, thought he could be Brandon Prust-like for the foreseeable future …. but I’ve seen no improvement over the course of the last 2 years and he’s 25. He was never going to amount to anything more than a 4th liner on this team (maybe any team) so better to obtain an asset. I look at this 4th rounder as possible trade bait — i.e. combine it with our other 4th rounder and move into the 3rd, or combine with the 3rd to get into the 2nd if there’s a specific player they’re targeting, or move it for another pick in the following draft. These assets seem minor in and of themselves but they can be leveraged for better assets.

  • Reminds me when we tossed away Ian Laperriere..

    Lemiuex will play in the NhL for the next 10 years…

    We are the softest team in the league now…you talk of toughness and think people are talking about fighting..leads me to believe you do not really know what it takes to win a Stanley cup.

    Why do the Islanders have Martin, the Caps, Wilson, the Knights Reeves.

    This isn’t fantasy hockey…you need a blend and our blend just got more vanilla.

    • Ian Laperriere was a far better player than Brendan Lemieux. If Lemieux is still in the NHL in three years I’ll be stunned. What exactly is the value to team whose fighter loses 75% of his fights?

  • Dave writes: “The Rangers aren’t going to miss Lemieux’s “toughness” on the ice. Fights are few and far between nowadays, so that’s not a factor. If you’re taking toughness in terms of grinding and hits, then Ryan Lindgren, Brendan Smith, and Chris Kreider are still here. To me, toughness is willing to get into the corners and take a hit to make a play. Most, if not all, the Rangers do that.”

    I do not agree.

    While I DO think the game is only going to get faster, more skilled, and it will be harder to compete without big bodies like Kreider who can skate and get to the corner, forecheck, hit, be heavy on the puck along the boards and so on…. and fighting and the need for any type of enforcer in the NHL is getting diminished… ‘The Code’ will always be a part of the game. If someone steps out of line you need and want someone stepping up to it, always and especially with how arbitrary officiating is; how young the Rangers are; and with the existance of people like Tom Wilson who actually plays the game well when not knocking the heck out of people with his fists OR his check.

    • I am missing your point here…are you, could you possibly be comparing Lemieux to Wilson? Lemieux does none of the things needed, beside sticking his head in the way of bigger guys fists occasionally and I’m not really sure that and being able to draw penalties when he isn’t taking them is enough to justify $1.55 mil.

  • I appreciate grinders more than anyone but you guys are smoking if you think Lemieux is actually a good one. He’s a pest who sometimes draws penalties. No need for a guy like that in a rebuilding year.

  • This is a well thought out article. The continued success of Barron and the arrival of Kravtsov make this a perfect deal if it only created space, the fact that there is also a significant cap benefit makes it a home run. I think it’s time to start singing the praises of upper management. The percentage of deals that have played out well for the Rangers, in a business where there are no guarantees, is well above average. We have a very rosy picture here, quite probably for years to come.

  • Let’s face the facts. Lemieux was taking horrible penalties and seemed disengaged most of the time. There are better options in Hartford if the Rangers feel they need an enforcer.
    Secondly, everyone seems ok losing Gauthier in the expansion draft. There are much better options to leave unprotected. Gauthier is a power forward who skates like the wind and has recently been driving to the net with authority. Power forwards typically take much longer to develop so patience is needed. Not to mention that we gave up a defensive prospect in Keane when we acquired Julien.

  • I like the trade. I think the Rangers have plenty of toughness and grit. If the playoffs require something more, that gets back squarely to the problem with refereeing. The playoffs should be officiated exactly like the regular season, and penalties should be penalties, and non-penalties should be non-penalties, no matter what kind of game it is even exhibition.

  • Lemieux gone I hope means Mason Geerson is on his way to the big club?. The dude is a true heavyweight. No one will be taking advantage of our skilled players with him on the bench.

  • So far, 4 is totally wrong. The Rangers can protect only two from Strome Gauthier, Rooney, Blackwell, and Howden. It doesn’t matter which two. In all cases, they will expose two guys with sufficient games to satisfy the rules. You are forgetting that exposing Howden gets you half way there. JFTR, very few teams would protect Gauthier. With Kravtsov, Kakko, Lafreniere exempt, the Rangers have the luxury of protecting a marginal player.

    I think this deal is much more clubhouse than anything else. Clearly, Quinn and Lemieux were at odds. That’s why I think they sold him so cheaply. [I was however surprised in the offseason by his excessive salary.]

  • Leave all unprotected Chytl too and Hyak. Only a guess problem between coach and Lemiuex. I don’t see it. Lemiuex will be missed big time

  • Another dumb move to tack on with all the rest lemieux it’s a name that is a tough as they come and a lot of rangers have committed stupid penalties it’s causing us to lose game that should be wins from 1st liner’s like panarrin to krieder to strome watch the game’s and there is not 1 player that you can not call out for making a bonehead play or penalty causing us game’s but this is a team game so stop pointing out faults because as i have stated numerous times it’s the top of the of the organization that starts the bonehead plays and of course as we know it rolls down hill from there and you can’t make the NHL playoffs with a college team let’s get that through your thick skull “nough said”

  • This pisses me off to no end. Brendan Lemieux was the only player l actually liked on this Rangers roster, while Alexis Lafreniere is making Alexandre Daigle look like Wayne Gretzky, and Kappo Kakko is making Olli Jokinean look like Mario Lemieux. Hockey season is done for me. I’ll go focus on my hockey card and game-worn jersey collections.

    • Nah don’t worry Joe, it will get better, this is trial and error season and putting everything together. I like watching this young team win or lose its good to watch these kids develop.
      relax it’s gonna be good

  • Sorry, I don’t see anything good about Gauthier, all he does is run around the ice 90 miles an hour. cant put the puck in the net from the edge of the dock on a lake.
    The Rangers will hurt big time if they lose Blackwell, he is lucky around the net and has the scoring ability. would not be surprised if he nets 20/25 next year in a full season.

    And you talk about toughness, every team needs “that guy” to make sure nobody takes liberties on your players, so I disagree with you on that, you even heard lately teams trying to distract Igor by bouncing off him, and your not gonna get help from the refs on interference.

    Every team needs an enforcer you mention Lingren, Kreider, Smith when was the last time any of them won a fight?? so other players can do their job.
    Enforcers have a role and the Rangers desperately need one.

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