New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has acquired a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, forward Brendan Lemieux, and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Kevin Hayes.
Including the first-round pick acquired from Winnipeg, the Rangers have either made, or will make, seven selections in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft over a three-year period from 2017 to 2019 (two first-round selections in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, three first-round selections in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, and two first-round selections in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft). In the NHL Entry Draft Era (beginning in 1979 after the NHL-WHA merger), no team has made more than seven first-round selections over a three-year period. In addition to the two first-round selections the Rangers currently have in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the team has the potential of making two more selections in the first round (conditional picks acquired from Dallas and Tampa Bay).
The Rangers currently have five picks in the first two rounds of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft (their own first-round pick, Winnipeg's first-round pick, their own second-round pick, either Dallas' second-round pick or first-round pick, and either Tampa Bay's second-round pick or first-round pick) and eight picks overall in the Draft. The Blueshirts made four selections in the first two rounds of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (three in the first round and one in the second round) and 10 selections overall in the Draft.
Lemieux, 22, has skated in 44 games with Winnipeg this season, registering nine goals and two assists for 11 points, along with a plus-10 rating and 64 penalty minutes. He leads NHL rookies in penalty minutes, is tied for eighth among NHL rookies in plus/minus rating, and ranks 10th among NHL rookies in hits (81) this season. In addition, among NHL rookies who have played in at least 10 games this season, Lemieux is tied for first in goals per 60 minutes of ice time (1.66 - tied with Elias Pettersson) and is tied for 10th in points per 60 minutes of ice time (2.02). Lemieux also leads the entire NHL (min. 10 games played) in minor penalties drawn per 60 minutes of ice time in 2018-19 (2.94).
The 6-1, 210-pounder has skated in 53 career NHL games over parts of two seasons (2017-18 and 2018-19), both with Winnipeg, registering 10 goals and two assists for 12 points, along with a plus-12 rating and 85 penalty minutes. Lemieux made his NHL debut on Oct. 20, 2017 vs. Minnesota and tallied his first career NHL goal/point on Oct. 29, 2017 vs. Pittsburgh.
Lemieux skated in 51 games with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League (AHL) last season, registering 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points, along with a plus-10 rating and 170 penalty minutes. He established AHL career-highs in several categories in 2017-18, including goals, assists, points, plus/minus rating, and penalty minutes. In addition, he was the first AHL player since 2014-15 who registered at least 40 points and 150 penalty minutes in the same season. Lemieux ranked second in the AHL in penalty minutes last season. He led Manitoba in penalty minutes, ranked fourth in goals and points per game (min. five games played; 0.84), ranked fifth in shots on goal (152), and tied for fifth in points. He has skated in 117 career AHL games over parts of three seasons (2015-16 - 2017-18), all with Manitoba, registering 33 goals and 32 assists for 65 points, along with 306 penalty minutes.
Prior to beginning his professional career, Lemieux played four seasons of junior hockey (2012-13 - 2015-16) with the Barrie Colts and Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), registering 106 goals and 83 assists for 189 points, along with 407 penalty minutes in 209 games. Over his final two seasons in the OHL, Lemieux tallied 73 goals in 102 contests (0.72 goals per game). Although he is a native of Denver, Colorado, he has represented Canada in international tournaments, and he helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Lemieux was originally selected by Buffalo in the second round, 31st overall, of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He is the son of former NHL player Claude Lemieux, who played parts of 21 seasons in the league and won four Stanley Cups, as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1994-95.
Hayes skated in 361 games with the Rangers over parts of five seasons (2014-15 - 2018-19), registering 87 goals and 129 assists for 216 points, along with 98 penalty minutes. He helped the Rangers win the Presidents' Trophy for having the best regular season record in the NHL in 2014-15. During the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Hayes tallied the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 4 of the First Round at Pittsburgh, and he registered a goal in the Rangers' victory in Game 7 of the Second Round vs. Washington.