We continue our annual prospect review and forecast series with Hendrix Lapierre, center for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL). (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.)
Lapierre, 21, is a 6’-0”, 180 lb forward from Gatineau, Quebec. He was drafted by the Capitals in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He signed a three-year entry-level contract on October 27, 2020, for an average annual value of $925,000. With two year’s of entry-level slides, he will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2025.
After playing in the Quebec Midget AAA League during the 2017-18 season, Lapierre was the first pick overall in the 2018 QMJHL draft. In his first season with the Saguenéens, 2018-19, he recorded 13 goals, 32 assists for 45 points in 48 games. His production was enough to lead all first-year QMJHL players in points per game and he won the Michel Bergeron Trophy for the league’s offensive rookie of the year.
In February of 2019, Lapierre suffered what appeared to be a concussion and was forced to miss nearly a month. He was able to return to the Saguenéens for the last seven games of the regular season and participate in the playoffs, where he scored three goals and recorded two assists in four games.
During the summer of 2019 he represented Canada in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup where he scored three goals and recorded eight assists for 11 points in five games, ultimately catching the eyes of Capitals scouts.
Expectations for Lapierre were high for the 2019-20 season. The Saguenéens assembled a star studded roster that was expected to contend for the Memorial Cup and Lapierre was expected to be their top center. He posted 13 points in his first 13 games of the season, but then had an awkward collision in a game on October 23 against the Rimouski Océanic.
After the game, he was diagnosed with what was believed to be his second concussion. The symptoms soon subsided and he was back in the lineup less than two weeks later. But then Lapierre took an open ice hit on November 21, and this time, the concussion symptoms did not go away. He had headaches, and was sensitive to light and sound. He had trouble focusing on school work and feared his season was over.
Lapierre began skating again in January but still felt something was wrong. He still had headaches but it was mostly in the morning and they would go away in 10 minutes, which was not typical of concussions. So the family sought other medical opinions, specifically Dr. Daniel Dyrek. In February, he had X-rays and MRI’s done.
While the imaging was relatively clear, Dr. Dyrek noticed two vertebrae that were out of place. It appeared the overarching issue was a cervical issue rather than concussions. Dr. Dyrek figured the second and third injuries were the aggravation of an old spinal issue, rather than repeated concussions. Hence, Lapierre got to work to heal his spine and strengthen the nearby muscles. He was nearly ready to return in March when the remainder of the season was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
The Capitals selected Lapierre with their first round pick (#22 overall) in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft on October 6, 2020.
Lapiere had a challenging 2020-21 campaign, which included more than 60 days of quarantine time due to the Covid pandemic. He did manage to participate in Team Canada’s training camp prior to the World Juniors in December but was cut from the team. He also participated in the Capitals’ Covid-abbreviated training camp in January (each camp required a week of quarantine before participating and returning to Canada).
Lapierre scored eight goals and 23 assists in 21 regular season games for Chicoutimi in the QMJHL. He was fourth on his team in goals and first on his team in assists. He ranked 89th in the QMJHL in goals and 21st in the league in assists. Lapierre began to heat up in the postseason, adding five goals and seven assists in nine postseason games.
Lapierre was then traded from Chicoutimi to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the QMJHL on June 23, 2021.
Lapierre’s 2021-22 campaign began with a solid prospect development camp and main Capitals training camp, and was ultimately awarded a spot on the Capitals opening night roster. He would score a goal in six games with Washington before being re-assigned to Acadie-Bathurst in the QMJHL. Lapierre was invited to Team Canada’s selection camp for the 2022 World Junior Championship team, but once again, was cut from the team. He would return to Acadie-Bathurst to have a fairly decent second half of the season, but missed games late in the season due two different lower body injuries. Lapierre finished the season 21 goals and 30 assists in 40 games played. He finished the season with a 1.28 points per game percentage, good for 21st overall in the QMJHL, and 4th on the Titan roster. He recorded 150 shots for a 14.0% shooting percentage.
The 2022-23 season was a season of ups and downs for Lapierre, very typical for any AHL rookie. He began the season with an excellent points scoring rate, averaging a goal every three games and averaging 2.6 shots per game in the first 25 games of the season. He hit the “rookie wall” in the next 25 games, dropping his shot rate to 1.2 shots per games and 0.12 goals per game. He was a healthy scratch for a couple of games in February, but it ultimately helped him for the remainder of the season. After a fast start, he was somewhat quiet in the postseason but did score in the decisive game 7 of the Calder Cup final. More importantly Lapierre played in a lot of games this past season, something he was lacking on his resume due to injuries and the Covid pandemic.
2022-2023 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Hendrix Lapierre during the 2022-2023 season. Also included are his monthly scores (0-5, with 2.5 being average). You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
The rookie has transitioned to the professional ranks, seamlessly on the offensive end. He earned the primary assist on Hershey’s first goal of the season against Utica on October 15 when Henrik Borgstrom put in a rebound from his shot.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) October 15, 2022
Lapierre netted his first AHL goal on the next night against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Gatineau, Quebec native snapped a shot through a double screen and into the net for a power play marker in the first period.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) October 16, 2022
Lapierre still has strides to make when it comes to puck battles, work along the boards and his defensive game. On the same night that he scored his first goal, the former first rounder made a mistake that led to Lehigh Valley’s goal. Lapierre tried to stick handle through three Phantoms in the offensive zone and got stripped of the puck. Zack McEwan tipped the puck up the ice. Elliot Desnoyers beat Lapierre to the puck and beat Fucale to the blocker side to tie the game at one.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) October 16, 2022
Lapierre has added two more assist to finish his first month as an AHL player with four points.
Monthly Score: 3.5
The rookie pivot has had no trouble adapting to the professional game offensively in the early going. Lapierre is tied with Mason Morelli for the team lead in points with 14. In November, he tallied four goals and dished out seven assists.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) November 13, 2022
The Gatineau, Quebec native recorded his first AHL multi-point game on November 6 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He registered the primary assist on Morelli’s first period marker and also had the primary helper on Ethen Frank’s second period tally.
Lapierre also posted a multi-point game on November 13 versus Laval. He opened the scoring in the first period with a snipe from the right circle and then had the primary assist on Bobby Nardella’s power play goal.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 1, 2022
Lapierre’s defensive games has shown signs of improvement as well. His backchecking has improved and his coverage in the defensive end has been better. He negated an icing late in the game at Lehigh Valley on November 30 by hustling back to beat the Phantom defender up ice.
Monthly Score: 4.0
Coming off of an 11-point November, Lapierre’s offensive production dipped in December. He found the back of the net in the first two games of the month, but then went on a five-game scoring drought.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 4, 2022
Lapierre broke that streak with a second period power play tally against Lehigh Valley on December 18. That would prove to be Lapierre’s final point of the month as he would go without a point in his final four games of the month.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) December 18, 2022
The rookie had some struggles with turnovers in the month and was a minus player six times in 12 games, while only being a plus player once. Lapierre also took a costly penalty in the third period against Providence on December 31. He was whistled for a slashing penalty behind the play. Chris Wagner would score on the ensuing power play and that goal would be the difference in the game.
Lapierre ended the month of December with a four-game pointless streak, giving him no points in nine of the 12 games played for the month of December. Despite his struggles, Lapierre still ranks fifth on the team in scoring with 17 points.
Lapierre is entering an interesting part of the season, as he is approaching the maximum number of games he has played over the last four seasons. It will be interesting to see how he handles the additional workload during the final months of the season.
Monthly Score: 3.0
After struggling through December, Lapierre started to find his game again in January. He snapped a four-game scoreless drought on January 7 when he scored Hershey’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss to Charlotte.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) January 8, 2023
The Gatineau, Quebec native recorded his first multi-point game since November 13 against Springfield on January 14. Lapierre scored a gritty goal, sweeping in a loose puck in front for the opening goal of the game.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) January 15, 2023
The rookie center then registered the primary assist on Garrett Pilon’s empty netter. He finished the month with two goals and three assists.
While that is not close to the level he displayed in November, Lapierre is playing at a more consistent level on both ends of the ice. He was a minus six in December, but turned it around to be a plus two in January.
Monthly Score: 3.5
The rookie center has hit a bit of a wall, as his offensive production has dried up. He had two assists in the month and has not scored a goal since January 14.
Lapierre was a healthy scratch for both games in Charlotte on February 18 and 19. Head coach Todd Nelson cited Lapierre sitting because he was frustrated and a desire to have him watch to see the intensity he needs to be playing with.
“Lappy’s sitting out, just because, right now he is frustrated. We kinda wanna use this as a reset button for him. He’s a great kid, he’s a student of the game. We just want him to watch the game from up top. Watch the intensity of the players, playing. We just feel that his intensity has to rise up. That’s very common with a young player like him. He’ll get back in the lineup very soon.”
Lapierre returned to the lineup for the last two games of the month, but left the game against Belleville on February 26 in the second period with an upper body injury.
Bears head coach Todd Nelson was asked about the status of Lapierre following game. “He has an upper body injury. I haven’t got the diagnosis yet from the trainer… He definitely couldn’t play. He tried to fight through it but he couldn’t play.”
Lapierre is nearing a career-high for games played in a season (54 games). He has missed a number of games in the previous three seasons due to injuries and Covid shutdowns. He played 52 games for Chicoutimi (QMJHL) in the 2018-19 season, 19 games for Chicoutimi (QMJHL) in the 2019-20 season, 30 games for Chicoutimi (QMJHL) in the 2020-21 season and a career high 54 games for Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) in the 2022-23 season.
He’s played 49 games so far this season with the Bears (AHL), with 10 goals and 14 assists.
Monthly Score: 2.0
After missing the first seven games of the month with an injury, Lapierre returned to play three straight games. He was scoreless in those three games and made little impact on the ice.
The Gatineau, Quebec native was then a healthy scratch on March 26. He returned in the month’s final game and netted his first goal since January 14, ending a 15-game goalless drought.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) March 29, 2023
The rookie pivot has hit a wall. Lapierre has just two assists two assists in his last 16 games.
With Sam Anas back from injury and Shane Gerisch and Julian Napravnik playing well, Lapierre could find it hard to get into the lineup come playoff time unless he starts to pick up his game.
Monthly Score: 2.0
Lapierre’s line (Aliaksei Protas and Sam Anas) was the top points producing line in the early part of the Bears run for the 12th Calder Cup. That cooled down for all three players as the postseason progressed and the competition got stronger, as he ended the post season with three goals and three assists in 20 games played. However, his third goal was huge, coming in game 7 of the Calder Cup finals.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) June 22, 2023
In the end, the postseason was a microcosm of Lapierre’s regular season, learning the ropes, struggling at times, and figuring out the professional game. He did fairly well against the league’s best in the postseason.
Monthly Score: 3.0
MONTHLY SCORE SUMMARY
Lapierre’s 2022-23 season, from strictly a development perspective, was excellent. He experienced all of the challenges the AHL presents a rookie in the league, dealt with adversity, healthy scratches, big goals and an extremely long season. Most importantly, his spinal issues from a few years ago appear to be completely in the rear-view mirror, even after an extended, grueling AHL season.
Lapierre showed plenty of flashes of why he was a first round draft pick, but is still learning the professional game. Again, all to be expected for a prospect of his age and low game experience.
Lapierre’s skating is NHL-caliber and his game sense greatly improved over the course of the season. He began to demonstrate excellent playmaking skills, most notably from below or behind the goal, quickly finding the open man in the slot or the player entering the zone. That part of his game is nearing or at NHL readiness.
His overall professional game sense is improving, but will need another season in Hershey. He is also still learning pro puck and board battling, which continues to improve, but still needs work. He is still pushed off of pucks with relative ease at times. He could use a few more pounds to assist with that. He also needs to continue reducing turnovers. Defense is also improving but needs work.
Lapierre’s rookie season in the AHL was a tremulous success, but he will need another year in Hershey before he is realistically potentially ready for a full time role on the Capitals roster. He’s just 21 and still developing each and every game. His development trajectory is right on track. He should get a few games with the Capitals this season.
By Jon Sorensen
Hendrix Lapierre: “I Would Say That In Terms Of Learning, This Is The Season Where I Learned The Most”
Hendrix Lapierre Suspended One Game For Boarding Incident
Hendrix Lapierre Breaks Through AHL Rookie Wall: “He’s Elevated His play, He Got Rewarded With Three Goals Tonight”
Hat Trick For Hendrix: Hendrix Lapierre Records First Professional Hat Trick Against Charlotte Checkers
Hendrix Lapierre Suffers “Upper Body Injury” Against Belleville Senators
Sagueneens: The Foreurs Win in Three
Hendrix Lapierre Needs Games: He’s Quarantined For Over 60 Days So Far This Season
Hendrix LaPierre On Meeting Idol Alex Ovechkin: “It Was Special To See Him And Shake His Hand”
Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre Do Battle In First Team Canada U20 Scrimmage
2022-2023 Prospect Reviews And Forecasts