After an outstanding rookie and training camp and short stint with the Washington Capitals, Hendrix Lapierre is continuing his impressive 2021-22 campaign back down in juniors. And so far, he has put himself right on Team Canada’s radar with the World Junior Championships quickly approaching.
According to The Athletic‘s Scott Wheeler, who covers the NHL draft and prospects, Lapierre could be one of Canada’s top-4 pivots for the 2022 World Juniors. The tournament kicks off on Dec. 26.
Lapierre scored his first career goal in his NHL debut and had a decent showing up in Washington through six games, picking up three takeaways and seven shots. The Capitals ultimately decided to send him back to the QMJHL, where he could continue his development and work on improving some areas of his game while getting more ice time and responsibility with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
“It’s a lot for a young player to I think to handle the NHL and the league itself,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “We sent him back to juniors where he can play against his peers and you know, who knows what happens from here, whether he gets a chance to play in the world championships and whether he gets a chance to play in playoffs. If all those things could happen, you think about his year and it’s really in a great spot.”
“It’s not a negative that we sent him back,” Laviolette added. “We just felt it was time for a young player that, where it’s very difficult to crack a league that’s made of grown men, it’s difficult and yet he did such a fantastic job that we had to keep him and we had to keep looking at him and he helped us.”
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So far, he has done just that, dishing four assists and playing top-line minutes through four games with the Titan. He’s been an asset on the power play and a strong playmaker so far. The 19-year-old has also improved tremendously in the face-off dot, winning 51.4 percent of 70 draws with Acadie-Bathurst to open his campaign in the Q.
“Certainly in an ideal world, I would have stayed in Washington. However, I had a great opportunity to play games,” Lapierre said in an interview with TVA Sports following his transfer to the QMJHL. “It was up to me to grab it. I don’t think I did wrong, but maybe I didn’t do enough to stay on all year. I do know, however, that I have made a huge leap forward.”
So far, he is off to a tremendous start and is on the right track back to the NHL. And, if he does lace ’em up for his country in the WJC, it’ll be another major stride.