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Rangers agree to two-year deal with Brendan Lemieux, avoiding arbitration

Rangers left wing Brendan Lemieux did not have

Rangers left wing Brendan Lemieux did not have a great year. Playing mostly in a fourth-line role, he scored six goals and had a career-high 18 points in 59 games.  Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Rangers again avoided going to arbitration when they reached agreement on a two-year contract with forward Brendan Lemieux hours before he was scheduled for his hearing Friday.

According to CapFriendly, Lemieux will earn $1.45 million in 2020-21 and $1.65 million in 2021-22.

Lemieux, 24, an abrasive left wing who was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets as part of the Kevin Hayes deal at the 2019 trade deadline, did not have a great season in 2019-20. He had six goals, 12 assists and 111 penalty minutes in 59 games and spent much of the season playing on the fourth line. But he does provide a physical element that the team does not have in abundance.

Getting Lemieux in the fold, one day after Ryan Strome agreed to a two-year, $9 million deal, means the Rangers have extended their arbitration-less run to 11 years. The last time they went to arbitration with a player was in 2009 with forward Nikolay Zherdev.

Last month, the Rangers avoided arbitration with goaltender Alexandar Georgiev and defenseman Tony DeAngelo, as both signed two-year deals.

The offseason essentially is complete for the Rangers, who had to manage a severe salary-cap squeeze and were able to do so without dramatically changing their roster. The biggest change from last year’s team was the departure of goaltender and franchise icon Henrik Lundqvist, who had the final year of his contract bought out in September.

Lundqvist, the Rangers’ all-time leader in goaltending wins and games played, playoff appearances and playoff wins, had been supplanted as the team’s No. 1 goaltender by 24-year-old Russian Igor Shesterkin in 2019-20 and also had fallen behind Georgiev as the backup. Lundqvist ended up signing with the Metropolitan Division rival Washington Capitals.

The other notable departures were defenseman Marc Staal, who was traded to the Detroit Red Wings to clear cap space, and forward Jesper Fast, who was allowed to leave as a free agent to join the division rival Carolina Hurricanes.

The biggest addition to the roster was No. 1 overall draft pick Alexis Lafreniere. The Rangers also signed free-agent defenseman Jack Johnson to replace Staal.

General manager Jeff Gorton did add some depth pieces through free agency, including defenseman Anthony Bitetto. The Island Park native will compete for a roster spot.

New York Sports