4/1/21 | Larry Brooks writes that Lemieux requested a trade from the Rangers. (NY Post)
3/28/21 | David Quinn said of the trade “It was a logjam, obviously with Kravtsov here and Howden getting healthy, some guys doing well in Hartford, it seemed like the right thing to do and it’s gonna give Pepe to play in a little bit more of a role that he is looking for. He was a good player for us and we are going to miss him.”
3/27/21 | The Rangers have traded Brendan Lemieux to the LA Kings for LA’s 4th round pick.
Elliotte Friedman and John Shannon tweeted that the Rangers roster shuffle with carrying three goalies, Phil Di Giuseppe’s return, Brett Howden’s eventual return from the Covid list and Vitali Kravtsov as a main reason for the trade.
Lemieux was acquired from Winnipeg in 2019, with a first-round pick, for Kevin Hayes.
The Rangers then sent that first-round pick back to Winnipeg, along with Neal Pionk, for Jacob Trouba.
Lemieux was in the first year of a two-year deal that had a cap hit of $1.55 million.
This season had two goals, five assists and 59 PIM in 10:13 per game.
His 65 hits ranked third on the Rangers and his 59 PIM leads the team and is more than double the amount of PIM than second on the team, Ryan Lindgren.
On the season, Lemieux’s 17 penalties taken and 17 penalties drawn evened out. He led the Rangers in both categories.
12 of the penalties he took were minor penalties, three were major penalties and he had two misconducts.
In his 109 games with the Rangers he drew four more penalties than he took, 60 to 56.
Adam Rotter: This is a strange trade for the Rangers. Lemieux was definitely someone who took penalties at bad times, but he had a skill set of a physical, gritty player that the Rangers don’t have a lot of. There was a reason why the Rangers targeted Lemieux when they made the trade with Winnipeg and two seasons later he is gone. They may have lost him for nothing to Seattle in the expansion draft this summer, and if that is what they thought, a fourth-round pick is better than nothing, but the Rangers need more north/south type forwards, not less.
Ultimately the Rangers have a glut of bottom-six, mostly fourth-line/PK forwards, and clearly viewed the roster spot, cap savings, and fourth-round pick as more valuable right now than Lemieux. When the Rangers traded for Lemieux they were banking on someone who they could fit into their top-nine and maybe second PP unit for a long time, but Lemieux often struggled to have his positives outweigh his negatives on a consistent basis. It wasn’t just the penalties, which could be an issue at times, but his play defensively as well. In the end, Lemieux was one of numerous players/assets/ that they’ve acquired since the rebuild started and not all of them work out or live up their ability hype. Lemieux now joins another one of those players, Lias Andersson, with LA. Will the Rangers regret deciding to move Lemiuex, his roster spot and cap hit in favor of a fourth line that features Colin Blackwell, Kevin Rooney, Brett Howden, Julien Gauthier or Phil Di Giuseppe? Maybe, but this could also up a spot for Vitali Kravtsov on the third line and maybe Morgan Barron later in the year.