Hendrix Lapierre was the Washington Capitals first round selection in the 2020 draft. A pick that looked like a potential steal, Lapierre has vastly improved while also avoiding injuries since being picked.
A 6’0″ and 180 lbs build, Lapierre is an extremely skilled player who can play left wing or center. Lapierre was offensive rookie of the year in 2018 in the QMJHL, however with concussions in the next 2 seasons, the excitement for Lapierre as a player started to wear off. The Capitals front office still saw his potential and believed he still deserved to be a first rounder and he could be a great pick for the team with such a late pick.
In the season just prior to his draft, Hendrix had been faced with many problems, including what everyone had thought was his two concussions. Lapierre was not only struggling with hockey but also constant headaches and the inability to focus in any settings. Since Lapierre was struggling in many facets of his life, he went to a doctor to see how he could deal with these concussions. Lapierre found out that two of his vertebrae were out of place and that’s what was causing so much pain and discomfort in his head. Lapierre from then on worked on healing his spine and strengthening near by muscles so he could comfortably get back to the game he loves.
Since being drafted, Lapierre has only had the chance to play in 21 total QMJHL regular season games, due to the global pandemic this time, not his injuries. Hendrix put up 31 points in those 21 games, followed by a red-hot 5 goals and 7 assists in 9 post-season games. A thing that makes me excited about Lapierre is his ability to rebound from controversy, including a 60 day quarantine, being cut from the world juniors hockey team, and of course his past injuries, Lapierre comes back better each time, making the best out of his opportunities.
Lapierre is extremely skilled, there is no doubt about that. The fear from most Caps fans, is those past injuries, especially those involving his head. Lapierre looks to me like he has shown nothing but improvement since those injuries, showing also no sense of fear while playing.
In an interview, Lapierre told reporters, “I really want to prove that I’m not only a junior player right now, that I can play at the next level.” Personally, I believe one more year of Junior hockey could benefit Lapierre and his confidence. However, if the CHL leagues have to deal with yet another not-so normal season, Lapierre could be playing less hockey than he would like to, so maybe having him play a top-line role in Hershey similar to McMichael last season, could build his skillset and his comfort level when he is NHL ready.
Lapierre certainly should have a future with the Capitals. I don’t imagine we will see him in the NHL line-up anymore than 4-5 times this season. However, for Lapierre and his future as a potential top-liner, having an opportunity to prove his skill and upside to the Capitals coaching staff at camp followed by the chance to continue to sharpen his skills throughout the season, whether that be in the QMJHL or AHL.