Capitals choose Hendrick Lapierre at NHL draft
“I know he’s had a tough year with injuries,” said Brian MacLellan, general manager of Capitals, during a videoconference with reporters. “We let our doctors and trainer examine it while we went through the entire design process. There is probably a bit of a risk there, but I figured in our pick where we were, the uptrend was just making up for it. He is a seasoned player who can potentially be a top 6 center man. “
In these 19 competitions last season, Lapierre scored two goals and 15 assists. He was ranked 13th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Ross Mahoney, deputy general manager of Capitals, said the team was “a bit surprised” that the 6-foot center, weighing 179 pounds, was still number 22 on the board.
Mahoney described Lapierre as “a very high hockey IQ, good character player, and extremely selfless”. Washington Boy Scouts believed he had a stellar performance at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, leading all skaters in points (11) in five games and helping Canada win a silver medal.
“After such a year on the roller coaster, I would say it’s amazing to put on this jersey and I feel like it’s really like the cherry on the cake in the negative season,” Lapierre said in a videoconference with reporters.
Lapierre said he was a huge fan of Alex Ovechkin growing up and he had a poster of the captain of the capitals on the wall as a kid. The first jersey he ever owned was a Capitals Ovechkin sweater, which fueled his love for the team.
“Washington has a special place in my heart and I’m really, really happy to be part of this organization,” said Lapierre.
Lapierre was the QMJHL Draft’s first choice for 2018, scoring 13 goals and 32 assists in 48 games. He was named the QMJHL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year but then missed much of the following season.
Lapierre’s injury history is long but he said he never worried about being unable to play. He said he suffered only one concussion in February 2019 but then sustained a number of neck injuries. He went to Florida to consult with doctors. He was medically cleared for play in April and returned to QMJHL action just four days before the draft.
“I never doubted myself,” said Lapierre. “I’ve always been very positive and tried to bring positive energy to myself and the locker room and all that stuff, but it’s good to be back. I worked on a lot of things last year and worked very hard. … It’s just the beginning of this experience, but it feels really good. “
The capital cities sent the Calgary Flames the 24th and 80th picks to grab Lapierre. Washington now only holds three picks (the 117th, 148th and 179th) in Rounds 2 through 7, which will be performed on Wednesday.
By choosing Lapierre, the capitals have chosen a center for successive designs. Last year they drafted Connor McMichael in the 25th election; Previously, they had used their last three picks in the first round against goalkeeper Ilya Samsonov and defenders Lucas Johansen and Alex Alexeyev.
As expected, the top prospect Alexis Lafreniere went to the New York Rangers with the first choice. Lafreniere was considered the number 1 suspension after scoring 114 goals and 297 points in three seasons with QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic. Last season he scored 112 points (including 35 goals) in 52 games. He also led Canada to gold medal at the Junior World Championships, where he won MVP honors.
Lafreniere, who will turn 19 next week, has been named Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year twice in a row. He’s only the second player in history to do this. The other is Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby.
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