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Why Capitals Sending Lapierre To Hershey Is Right Move For Both Sides

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Washington Capitals

ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals prospect Hendrix Lapierre entered training camp with a chip on his shoulder and a determination to make the team once again after cracking the 2021-22 opening night roster. However, things didn’t go exactly to plan.

Lapierre saw his run come to an end on Sunday when he was loaned to the Hershey Bears with the AHL club’s training camp kicking off on Monday. He was one of eight cuts on Sunday, as the team also assigned best friend Vincent Iorio to the Bears while placing six on waivers: Beck Malenstyn, Garrett Pilon, Gabriel Carlsson, Bobby Nardella, Dylan McIlrath and Zach Fucale.

Although Lapierre is a top prospect who has made a lot of progress with some strong showings, him being sent to the AHL is a win-win for both sides.

The 20-year-old didn’t have too strong of a preseason, going scoreless through three games and not standing out too much throughout camp. He also didn’t get any time up with the main group amid difficult decisions and few vacancies available. However, he did show potential.

Lapierre did much better in the face-off dot this preseason and was more confident while skating and moving the puck. He also had much better positioning than he did in his rookie outing, and he didn’t shy away from puck battles or physicality, either. Lapierre also put on several pounds of muscle going into camp, and his strength showed.

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Going to the AHL will be the next best step for him; he didn’t quite show that he’s ready for full-time NHL action yet, and in Hershey, he’ll get to jump up from the QMJHL to the pros. That will give him time to adapt to playing against grown men and also allow him to get more comfortable with making the transition to the higher level.

Not only that, but as previously mentioned, there wasn’t a lot of room at the NHL level. The team has an influx of forwards, and with Aliaksei Protas and Joe Snively having arguably better camps, there isn’t a lot of leeway for Washington. Plus, you can only have 23 men on the roster for opening night. Taking that into account and limited roles up for grabs, having Lapierre actually get playing time and experience is better than having him use practices as games and watch from the press box.

Overall, Lapierre has shown that he is still a top prospect and has climbed up the depth chart. With time in Hershey, he’ll thrive and get more ice time and responsibility, and, if he keeps it up, a call-up isn’t out of the question, either.

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