The Montreal Canadiens have the 16th overall pick in the first round of the NHL entry draft, which will take place October 6-7. This is the fourth of five player profiles that could be on the Canadiens’ radar.
Team: Chicoutimi Saguenéens
Height / weight: 6 feet, 181 lbs
Central Scouting Bureau: 13th among North American skaters.
The Canadiens don’t have a history of drafting French speakers in the first round of the NHL entry project. The last time they drafted a Québécois was in 2009, when the project was held at the Bell Center and they chose Louis Leblanc. Before Leblanc, they struck in 1998 with Éric Chouinard whose consecutive 100-point seasons in QMJHL were the prelude to an NHL career that lasted only 90 games, including 13 with the Canadiens.
In light of their experiences, it will be interesting to see if they bet on Hendrix Lapierre if he is available at number 16.
A year ago, they probably would have jumped at the opportunity to draw Lapierre. The # 1 pick in the 2018 QMJHL Draft averaged nearly one point per game in his first season as a junior and his stock was high after collecting 11 points in five games to lead Canada to the silver medal at Gretzky Hlinka Cup. He was in the top 10 in most draft projections and TSN’s Craig Button ranked him second behind Alexis Lafrenière. Button called him a complete two-way player and compared him to Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins.
But the past season hasn’t been kind to Lapierre. After a slow start, he was sidelined twice for what were thought to be concussions and ended the season with two goals and 15 assists. After consulting with a number of doctors, it was determined that Lapierre’s concussion-like symptoms were the result of a spinal injury resulting from a concussion he suffered in February 2019. A spinal injury doesn’t seem like good news, but Lapierre was settled to play.
Teams considering Lapierre must assess his early potential against injury and slow start.
On the plus side, Lapierre is an attacking midfielder capable of seeing the ice well and downloading precise passes on both the forehand and the backhand, making him very effective in the power game. His shot is accurate, but he needs to shoot more and will be more dangerous when he adds strength.
On the negative side, it was difficult to read his development properly due to his injury problems. His size and skating are average and he needs to get stronger. The Gatineau native enters the draft as a wildcard that could make some teams very happy, but it could also be Louis Leblanc’s second coming.
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