Brendan Lemieux's re-signing gives him two years to make a case to be a long-term Ranger

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Brendan Lemieux causes chaos on the ice with his aggressive, agitating style of play. He skates fast, plays the body hard, and knows how to get under the skin of opponents to draw penalties.

Lemieux and the Rangers agreed to a two-year, $3.1 million contract to avoid arbitration on Friday. Now signed to a $1.55 million average-annual value salary, Lemieux will need to evolve his game and sharpen his offensive tools.

The 24-year-old wing has shown hints of offensive potential and an ability to drive play in a bottom-six role. His fast legs, strength in possessing the puck, and skilled hands could add up to a more complete package in the coming years.

In 59 games during the 2019-20 season, Lemieux registered six goals and 12 assists. That’s a pretty solid contribution considering his limited ice time.
Lemieux’s 12:52 average ice time was 10th among regular Rangers forwards. His 32 penalties drawn ranked seventh in the NHL. So, Lemieux gives the Rangers plenty of value when he’s on the ice.

I’ve seen the Sean Avery comparison thrown around. I don’t think Lemieux possesses the natural skill or two-way ability of Avery, and while I think his offensive contributions will increase, I don’t think he will quite reach the 0.47 points per game Avery recorded for the Blueshirts across six seasons.

Lemieux must also become a more dependable player in the defensive zone, and more disciplined. He was suspended for the first two games of the 2020 qualifying round playoffs for a March 11 headshot on Colorado Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi.

If Lemieux can refine his game on both sides of the puck and channel a more controlled aggression, he will become more valuable to the Rangers and make a case for a raise in two years’ time.

Follow Sean Hartnett on Twitter: @HartnettHockey

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