The NHL Draft is right around the corner and the Flyers have been linked with a slew of prospects who will be available when they’re on the clock to make their first-round selection at pick 23. Among those most heavily associated with the team is Hendrix Lapierre. Should the Flyers spend their first-round pick on the young Canadian?
A recent history
The Flyers are hardly strangers when it comes to drafting a Center in the first round. German Rubtsov was selected 22nd overall in 2016, before Nolan Patrick arrived on the scene one year later, accompanied by Morgan Frost. Jay O-Brien was picked with the 19th overall pick in 2018. That’s a lot of bulk at one position.
There are obvious question marks over the future of Nolan Patrick and that may well factor into this decision. He did recently play in a scrimmage game that included some projected first-rounders and if the Flyers are confident in his potential return to hockey, then investing another first-round pick would make little sense here given that Patrick is still only 22-years-old.
Adding Kevin Hayes was huge for the Philadelphia Flyers and the best part is that they still have six more years of solid second-line center play. If they extend the Selke-winning Sean Couturier as well, that ticks another box, leaving developmental options on the third and fourth lines that could easily be filled by a surging Morgan Frost and a potentially returning Nolan Patrick. Drafting another Center so highly just doesn’t make logistical sense unless there are any doubts about Patrick’s future.
With 15 assists and 2 goals in 19 games, the former QMJHL first-overall pick has caused a lot of debate this year. He looked red hot at the Hlinka Gretzky cup after recovering from a concussion, following on from a 2018 campaign where he won rookie of the year in the QMJHL, amassing 45 points in 48 games. But this past season presented a small sample size with a few more question marks, ranging from concussions (3 in 10 months), to being a little too pass-happy.
At 6’0, 181 lbs, Lapierre is a playmaker at heart – the ultimate point guard if you will. His puck-handling is scintillating and his vision unparalleled, making him a ‘Lionel Messi’ of the Ice if you will as he weaves his way through defenders in the hopes of pushing a pass through a window only he could. Lapierre’s passing is magnetic and almost like something out of a video game and given the Flyers’ need to really finish opportunities, having someone who can create more clear-cut chances would only aid that fight.
A tough call
What this really comes down to is how badly the Flyers need it. Morgan Frost performed amicably in his 20 games with the NHL side last year, rallying to 5 assists in 20 games, tallying 29 total points with the Phantoms alongside that. If it’s more playmaking that the Flyers desperately crave and they’re really unsure of Patrick’s future, this is where Chuck Fletcher has to make a very tough decision. But if they’re still sold on the potential of a once-elite prospect, then looking to the wings would make more sense here.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre