“I know he’s had a rough year with injuries,” Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan mentioned throughout a video convention name with reporters. “We’ve had our doctors, our trainer check him out as we went through the whole draft process. There probably is a little risk there, but I thought at our pick, where we were at, the upside just made up for it. He’s a skilled player, potential to be a top-six centerman.”
In these 19 contests final season, Lapierre recorded two targets and 15 assists. He was ranked 13th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Capitals assistant basic supervisor Ross Mahoney mentioned the group was a “little bit surprised” that the 6-foot, 179-pound middle was nonetheless on the board at No. 22.
Mahoney described Lapierre as having a “very high hockey IQ, good character player and extremely unselfish.” Washington scouts believed he had a stellar displaying on the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the place he led all skaters in factors (11) in 5 video games and helped Canada earn a silver medal.
“After such I’d say a roller-coaster year, it’s amazing to be able to put that jersey on, and I feel like it is really like the cherry on the sundae on the negative season,” Lapierre mentioned on a video convention name with reporters.
Lapierre mentioned he was an enormous Alex Ovechkin fan rising up, and he had a poster of the Capitals’ captain on his wall as a child. The first jersey he ever owned was a Capitals Ovechkin sweater, spurring his love for the group.
“Washington holds a special place in my heart, and I’m really, really happy to be a part of that organization, for sure,” Lapierre mentioned.
Lapierre was the 2018 QMJHL draft’s first choose and proceeded to tally 13 targets and 32 assists in 48 video games. He was named the QMJHL’s offensive rookie of the yr however then missed a lot of the next season.
Lapierre’s harm historical past is prolonged, however he mentioned he by no means was involved about not with the ability to play once more. He mentioned he suffered just one concussion, in February 2019, however then had a slew of neck accidents. He went to Florida to seek the advice of with docs. In April, he was medically cleared to play, and he returned to QMJHL motion simply 4 days earlier than the draft.
“I never doubted myself,” Lapierre mentioned. “I was always really positive and tried to bring positive energy to myself and the dressing room as well and all that stuff, but it is good to be back. I worked on a lot of stuff last year, worked really hard. … It is only the start of this experience, but it feels really good.”
The Capitals despatched the Calgary Flames the 24th and 80th picks to seize Lapierre. Washington now holds simply three picks (the 117th, 148th and 179th) in Rounds 2 by way of 7, which can be carried out Wednesday.
By selecting Lapierre, the Capitals have chosen a middle in back-to-back drafts. Last yr, they drafted Connor McMichael with the 25th choose; earlier than that, they’d used their previous three first-round picks on goaltender Ilya Samsonov and defensemen Lucas Johansen and Alex Alexeyev.
As anticipated, prime prospect Alexis Lafreniere went to the New York Rangers with the primary choose. Lafreniere was thought of a lock to be the No. 1 choice after he put up 114 targets and 297 factors in three seasons with the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic. Last season, he recorded 112 factors (together with 35 targets) in 52 video games. He additionally led Canada to the gold medal on the world junior championships, the place he claimed MVP honors.
Lafreniere, who turns 19 subsequent week, was named the Canadian Hockey League’s participant of the yr twice in a row. He is simply the second participant in historical past to take action; the opposite is Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby.
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