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Get to Know Hendrix Lapierre

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Learn more about the newest member of the Capitals’ organization.

Chicoutimi Sagueneens v Quebec Remparts Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images

For the first time since taking Stanislav Galiev a decade ago, the Washington Capitals have taken a player out of the QMJHL with a draft pick — and it was a big one. With their first-round pick, the Capitals did exactly what they should have: swung for the fences. At this point in their history, with a thin prospect pool, the Capitals needed to take a chance on some high end talent, no matter the negatives, and that’s what they did when they took center Hendrix Lapierre.

Last summer, Lapierre was seen as a legitimate top-ten, even top-five pick for the 2020 NHL draft, but after an injury-riddled season where he suffered three concussions and a neck injury he only played 19 games (although Lapierre did note during his post-draft media time that he actually only suffered one concussion). When he was finally cleared to play COVID-19 hit and the season was cancelled. He never had a chance to prove he still has elite talent.

And that is exactly what Lapierre brings to the table. He has elite playmaking ability, possibly among the whole draft, at least top three. His vision and passing ability are NHL ready it seems. It’s funny he wears 92 because he looks a lot like Evgeny Kuznetsov when he’s on the ice dishing out passes. He does a great job at slowing down the play, playing the perimeter then finding that tiny hole to set up scoring chances; essentially a Kuznetsov.

On the negative side, he’s not exactly known as a shoot-first type of player (much like Kuznetsov). And until Hendrix starts shooting the puck more, teams will always play the pass. Lapierre needs to make the opponent think he will rip it as well so it opens up some ice for his teammates to get into scoring areas. The good news is in the two games since the QMJHL started their season, he has three goals.

Unlike Kuznetsov, however, Hendrix is a two-way center. He works extremely hard on the backcheck and retrieving the puck in the defensive zone. He has the smarts and work ethic to help his team out before moving the puck up the ice into the offensive zone where he works his playmaking magic. He could certainly be better on the defensive side but it’s a great start to see the effort at the very least.

Lapierre still needs to get stronger and develop more of a willingness to get into the middle of the ice. His skating is also very good but you’d like to see a little bit more speed in his north south game. But his speed is still good and with his hands he can dangle in and out of players as he attacks them.

Unfortunately with Hendrix only playing 19 games last season, we don’t have a big enough sample size to draw any real conclusions or present any data visualization for him. And that kind of sums it up, right? Lapierre’s lack of playing leaves a big question mark. Did the COVID break help him reinforce his strength and avoid injury, or did it hinder him with lack of playing time?

Thankfully after that rash of injuries, he is by all accounts very healthy and ready to go. The Athletic did a great piece about what his doctors and physical therapist are doing with him to make sure he’s ready to move on from his injuries.

It’s all a big question but if Lapierre stays healthy and grows his game he has a legit chance on turning into a legit 60 assist player at the NHL level while being a top six center. Only time will tell. But we do know that he is extremely hungry and ready to get out on the ice to prove all the doubters wrong.