The American Hockey League (AHL) season is unlike any other hockey season a newcomer to the AHL has experienced. Three games in three days, long bus trips and an even longer season make it all extremely challenging for AHL rookies, on an off the ice. Not to mention the increase in physical play against bigger, much older, experienced players.
As a result of the huge leap made by an AHL rookie, a “wall” is often encountered. The season starts off fairly well, but somewhere along the way their is a a drop-off. Production sinks, injuries occur and overall performance drops. It appears Capitals forward prospect Hendrix Lapierre may have hit that rookie wall, at least at this point in the season.
While there are no formal “wall” stats to look at, there is evidence available. Below are Lapierre’s stats for the first 25 games of the 2022-23 season and the last 26 games of the season.
Lapierre began the season averaging 2.6 shots and .28 goals per game. That has dropped by more than half in the last 26 games to 1.23 shots and .12 goals per game. He has no goals in the last 15 games and just two goals in the 2023 calendar year. As a byproduct, Lapierre was a healthy scratch for a few games in February.
However, and more importantly, it should also be noted that Lapierre has dealt with shortened season’s over his entire career, primarily due to injuries and the Covid pandemic. His season high in games for his career 54.
There are still a handful of games remaining in the Hershey Bears regular season, and postseason games ahead as well, so a resurgence for Lapierre is certainly not impossible.
But the important thing for me, as a prospect analyst, is that Lapierre finishes the season as strong as he can, but more importantly, he stretches his “envelope” of games played in a season. If he ends up playing 60-70 games, that’s a very successful year in my book, regardless of any additional scoring.
Lapierre flashed his brilliance on the ice quite a bit in the early part of the season, so we have a good idea of his potential. He just needs to get to the point of playing more games in a calendar year.
By Jon Sorensen