The Philadelphia Flyers traded Zack MacEwen to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Brendan Lemieux and a fifth-round draft pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.
Both players signed one-year contracts during the 2022 offseason. The move doesn’t come as a surprise from either side because there were no indicators that the respective wingers fit into the short-term or long-term plans of their now former organizations.
Kings Acquire MacEwen
The Flyers activated MacEwen from injured reserve on Friday morning just hours before making the deal. The 26-year-old hasn’t played since suffering a broken jaw on Jan. 26 against the Minnesota Wild. He underwent surgery two days later, and the organization set an approximate timetable for his return at five weeks. Saturday, March 4 would mark exactly five weeks.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound winger has four goals and five assists in 46 games this season. He had been in and out of the Philadelphia lineup throughout the season before the injury. He played primarily a fourth-line role with minimal ice time on the second power-play unit when the team battled injuries to their best offensive forwards in the first half of the season. He has six games of playoff experience with the Vancouver Canucks in 2019-20.
Related: 2023 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker – Live Updates
The Kings currently sit tied for the Pacific Division lead with the Vegas Golden Knights. Head coach Todd McLellan has recently limited the ice time of bottom-six forwards Arthur Kaliyev, Rasmus Kupari, and Carl Grundstrom. Lemieux hasn’t dressed since Feb. 18 against the Arizona Coyotes. The move to acquire MacEwen is an attempt from general manager (GM) Rob Blake to shake up the bottom of the roster with a player known for physicality.
Flyers Acquire Lemieux
The 26-year-old Lemieux has played 257 games in six NHL seasons for the Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, and the Kings. He has primarily played a fourth-line role with a career-high 18 points in 59 games during the 2019-20 season. An expiring one-year, $1.35 million contract he signed with the Kings makes him a low-risk acquisition with only 20 games left in the 2022-23 season.
According to HockeyFights.com, the Flyers lead the league in fighting majors with 31. They have received heavy criticism for placing too much priority on an element of the game that has become exponentially less valuable than it was in past eras of the NHL. Lemieux has 30 career fights during the regular season. He has been fined by the league four times and suspended three times during his career. He is the son of infamous agitator Claude Lemieux, who tortured the Flyers with grit and pesky play most memorably in 1987 with the Montreal Canadiens and in 1995 and 2000 with the New Jersey Devils.
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While the chaos of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline has taken place over the past week, general manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher has remained relatively inactive before making a trade that includes two players known primarily as fourth-line fighters. The move to bring in Lemieux isn’t severely consequential, but it also doesn’t signify the type of big-picture change that a frustrated Philadelphia fan base has called for. A franchise that missed the playoffs in consecutive disastrous seasons in 2020-21 and 2021-22 hasn’t felt the need to make a major shake-up.