Los Angeles Kings acquire Brendan Lemieux from the New York Rangers for a pick
OFFICIAL: #NYR have acquired a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft from the LA Kings in exchange for forward Brendan Lemieux.— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 27, 2021
One could hardly fault the casual fan (or even those more committed to the cause) for finding themselves a little perplexed by this transaction.
You've got the Kings, an ostensibly rebuilding team with its best days still well in front of them, parting with a mid-round pick for a fourth-line winger (with an aggressively bad Twitter...). You've got the New York Rangers, a team that is right in the thick of the playoff chase in the East Division, parting with a bottom-six contributor who profiles as just the type of player teams want in, well, the playoffs.
The financial dynamics at play are such that one can start to piece together the logic on either side of this swap.
The Rangers are a little further along in their rebuild than the Kings, and they're always connected to the game's most highly sought-after commodities. This move clears an additional $1.6-million from the books without compromising the on-ice product to a significant degree.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, strong special teams have helped thrust the Kings to the thick of the playoff chase in the West Division, where they're about one win behind the Arizona Coyotes for the fourth and final playoff spot. This move brings a little sandpaper to their bottom-six, and even if the financials are a little rich, it's not the Kings can't absorb minor inefficiencies like the one that Lemieux's contract represents for the players they covet.
As colleague JFresh notes, Lemieux performs the role of an agitator admirably, as evidenced by his strong penalties drawn/taken numbers, too.
And when you're rocking the league's best prospect pool according to our team of scouts, it's easy to justify parting with a mid-round pick. Something tells me this isn't going to compromise their rebuild, which they've executed to near-perfection, in the slightest.