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Brendan Lemieux on joining Rangers: 'It's a dream come true'

Jets left wing Brendan Lemieux controls the puck

Jets left wing Brendan Lemieux controls the puck in front of Wild right wing Charlie Coyle during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game on Sept. 26, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn. Credit: AP/Andy Clayton-King

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The remaining Rangers returned to the ice on Tuesday for a practice in advance of Wednesday’s home game against Tampa Bay.

Gone from the team were Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes and Adam McQuaid, all of whom were dealt for young players and draft picks before Monday’s trade deadline.

The lone new face wasn’t a familiar face— but he had a familiar last name. Brendan Lemieux, son of former NHL star Claude Lemieux, was all smiles after his first practice with his new team.

Lemieux, 22, came over from Winnipeg on Monday along with a first-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick for Hayes. Lemieux will make his Rangers debut on Wednesday wearing No. 48 on a line with Lias Andersson and Pavel Buchnevich.

“It’s New York,” Lemieux said. “Original Six team. I’m just really looking forward to it. It’s a dream come true.”

Lemieux was in Phoenix with the Jets when the Rangers completed the trade. It wasn’t the general manager of either team or his agent who informed Lemieux. It was someone much more crucial to his hockey upbringing.

“I was just waking up in Arizona,” Lemieux said, “and I had a couple of missed calls and hit ‘snooze.’ Then my hotel phone rang and it was my dad and he said, ‘Look at your phone.’ ”

Lemieux was excited to be going to the Rangers because he knew he’d be getting much more ice time than in Winnipeg. Lemieux scored nine goals in 44 games, but was scratched for the last two.

“I had a pretty limited role in Winnipeg,” he said. “Definitely looking forward to a bigger opportunity here to be able to just grow my game.”

Lemieux’s scouting report on himself: “I’m a hard-nosed, two-way forward that can score some goals, but plays really hard. Closest player to the way I play would probably be my dad. That’s kind of the way I grew up — always trying to imitate what he did and that’s kind of how it’s worked out for me so far.”

Claude Lemieux played 21 seasons in the NHL, including six over two stints with the Devils. He won four Stanley Cups (two with New Jersey). If some of that DNA has rubbed off on Brendan’s game, then the Rangers have gotten themselves someone to aid their current rebuilding plan.

“He scored nine goals this year in limited ice time on a really good hockey team,” coach David Quinn said. “There’s certainly an offensive side of his game we’re hoping we can bring out of him with more of an opportunity. He’s a guy that was highly coveted.”

Notes & quotes: Quinn said Filip Chytil will be a healthy scratch against Tampa Bay and may not get back into the lineup for a while. “We need more effort out of him consistently,” Quinn said . . . Alexandar Georgiev will start in goal for the Rangers.


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