The New York Rangers made perhaps, the most notable trade of the deadline day, dealing pending free agent Kevin Hayes to the Winnipeg Jets. Besides netting a first round pick, the Rangers received young forward Brendan Lemieux in the deal.
While his career numbers may not point to much, and most don’t point to him being much more than a bottom-six forward, Lemieux has been one of the most efficient scorers in the league, and an expanded role could lead to a breakout.
Brendan Lemieux: Scoring At Every Level
Breaking onto a good team can be hard for a young player. The 22-year old Lemieux found this out the hard way during his time with the Jets.
After being a part of the Tyler Myers/Evander Kane trade, Lemieux finally broke into the NHL last season, He scored one goal in nine games played with Winnipeg. Before that he was the 31st overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres. Lemieux has been a goal-scorer wherever he has gone, He netted 40 goals twice in the OHL and then notched another 19 in 51 games his last season in the AHL.
Finding playing time with the Jets was hard for Lemieux. Having such a deep team that went to the conference finals the year before, he rarely saw any time on the power play. That limited prime opportunities to score for him.
All together, Lemieux averages 7:25 TOI/game, That’s a typical number for a fourth-line winger that doesn’t contribute to either special team units.
Despite the low amount playing time, Lemieux has managed to score nine goals in 44 games played. Over an 82-game pace, that’s a total of 16 goals, which is a good mark for a player in his role.
On a per-60 minute pace, those nine goals in 44 games while playing just 7:25 per game add up to Lemieux scoring at the second-best rate in the league at 5v5.
-Lemieux’s per-60 marks ranked according to Natural Stat Trick
Among all forwards to play at least 300 minutes at 5v5, Lemieux has posted the second-best goals-per-60 minutes mark, trailing only Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators. He also has the highest shooting percentage of any forward that meet the same criteria.
In true power forward fashion, Lemieux ranks 15th in hits-per-60 minutes as well. In fact, of all the forwards in the top-50 in scoring rate, only Austin Wagner comes close to Lemieux’s Hits/60 mark.
Fitting in with the Rangers
It won’t be any easier breaking into the lineup, even on a team that is rebuilding, as the Rangers are stacked with young players fighting for playing time.
However, the Rangers are in need of some goal-scorers. They currently rank near the bottom of the league in goals-per-game (21st), and lost two of their top-six goal scorers at the trade deadline.
Kreider and Mika Zibanejad are on their way to 30-goal seasons, but the drop-off after that gets steep quick.
Even if all Lemieux gets is more time on the bottom-six, he has shown the ability to make the absolute best out of every opportunity he gets. The numbers show that he should at least get a look at an expanded role with his new team.
WINNIPEG, MB October 20: Winnipeg Jets forward Brendan Lemieux (48) skates with the puck during the regular season game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Arizona Coyotes on October 20, 2018 at the Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg MB. (Photo by Terrence Lee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)