The NHL season is finally in the midst of entering phase II of their return to play plan. Despite the smell of hockey being in the air, the NHL looked into having different options open for the NHL draft. The draft now looks to not occur until the Fall, with Commissioner Gary Bettman declaring yesterday that the playoffs will end before the draft.
However, it’s never too early to evaluate prospects. It’s time to devote our attention to some prospects for this year’s draft. The Flyers will look to have a pick anywhere between the mid-20s and possibly even 31. So with this being said, my colleagues and I have devoted our attention to some solid depth prospects that could wind up putting on an orange and black sweater one day.
Weight: 181 Pounds
Hendrix Lapierre is a very intriguing name highlight this draft class. He was a highly touted player coming out of bantam and midget AAA hockey, leading to him being drafted #1 overall in the 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft by Chicoutimi. The then 16-year-old did not disappoint.
Lapierre finished the 2018-19 season tied for sixth in rookie scoring in the league with 13 goals, 32 assists for 45 points. He also picked up 102 shots, 49 of those being dangerous shots. Unlike the other rookies, Lapierre accomplished this in 48 games.
Further, his rate of primary points (goals and first assists) per game was 0.708 per Pick224. Only Alexis Lafrenière (projected #1 overall pick) had a higher rate among draft year-minus one players that season in the QMJHL. Only 14 players in the world had a higher primary point per game rate in that same season. In other words, Lapierre’s produciton should be seen as impressive. The league agreed. As noted on his Elite Prospects page, he was named to the All-Rookie Team as well as the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Credit to https://www.allaboutthejersey.com/2020/4/20/21214535/hendrix-lapierre-2020-nhl-draft-prospect-profile-most-unpredictable-prospect-wild-card-chicoutimi for the research.
Lapierre has had an unfortunate juniors career, leaving his draft status up in the air. As mentioned earlier, he was producing at a high rate, doing so in only 48 games. However, he was limited to those 48 games due to a couple of injuries.
In October of 2018, Lapierre suffered a shoulder injury, which sidelined him a month. Soon after that, he took a hit to the head, which gave him a concussion in February of 2019. However, this is not where the laundry list ends for the youngster.
Lapierre would recover from his first concussion well, and play in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He stunted on the rest of the competition, accumulating 11 points in five games. The tournament boosted his draft value tremendously. Despite a couple of set backs, Lapierre found himself in the top-10 discussion. His performance at one of the biggest prospect showcases sprung confidence for Lapierre heading into his biggest season yet- the season before his eligibility for the NHL draft.
However, tragedy began to strike for the center. He suffered another concussion on October 23, his second of 2019. Luckily, it only kept him off the ice for four games. This turned out to not be of any benefit, however, as Lapierre suffered a nasty collision to the head on November 21, 2019, his third of the calendar year. This put him out indefinitely, and he was still out prior to the season being cancelled due to the pandemic.
According to this April 3, 2020 post at Future Considerations by Josh Bell, Lapierre was working out and trying to make a comeback before the global COVID-19 pandemic shut down the QMJHL and hockey. Lapierre’s season ended with just 19 games played, two goals, fifteen assists, 44 shots, and 23 dangerous shots.
His draft stock obviously took a hit, dropping him into the twenties for most prospect rankings. If Lapierre returns to full health, the former first round pick could easily contribute at an NHL level.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
For a full in depth analysis of his strengths and weaknesses, please refer to the video below:
- Vision, uses the space the opposing team gives him
- Hockey IQ in all three zones
- Will not drive the net
- Not a natural scorer
- Does not look hard for the open shot, looks hard at the open pass
- Forces passes
- Below average shot
Many NHL teams will not want to waste a first round pick on a gamble as big as Lapierre will end up being. I genuinely hate when people label guys “injury prone” early in their careers, but Lapierre is certainly adding to his list. For someone who covers the Flyers and seeing what Nolan Patrick is going through, I can confidently say I am unsure about how I truly feel about this kid.
I am a huge Nolan Patrick fan, and believe that he can play at a high level when healthy. As much as I hope he comes back and can produce, I am just unsure on how I would feel about the Flyers drafting another player in that situation. It just would not make much sense in foresight. Lapierre is one heck of a playmaker, and could be the best one in the entire draft. He reminds me of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins due to his playing style.
Lapierre is a textbook definition boom-or-bust prospect. He could very easily become the steal of the draft, but he could easily never get a chance to even continue his hockey career. I hate even the thought of that for these kids, as they have worked so hard to get to this point. If the Flyers pick falls in the late-twenties, and Lapierre is on the board, I wouldn’t hate the pick if they do their homework, especially with him getting the extended time before the draft to recover and get situated. However, I would much rather them draft more of a scorer in this draft.