As the Washington Capitals see a number of their rookies join the NHL ranks amid COVID-19 and injuries, the organization is also seeing a lot of its young prospects in the system rising to the occasion as well.
From Hendrix Lapierre to Bear Hughes, here’s a look at how some of the Capitals’ prospects are performing this season.
Hendrix Lapierre, Acadie-Bathurst Titan
Lapierre spent six games up at the NHL level after cracking the Capitals opening night roster thanks to a standout training camp. The 19-year-old scored his first career goal in his debut and managed seven shots, three takeaways and a +/- of plus-1, but was sent back down to the QMJHL to continue his development and get more ice time. He will also likely get a chance to compete with Team Canada after earning an invite to their World Junior selection camp.
So far, he’s hit the ground running with the Titan, who he was traded to in the offseason. Lapierre has two goals and 14 points through nine games since returning to the “Q” and officially picked up his 100th career QMJHL point. He is currently riding a four-game point streak, with at least three points in three of those last four outings.
The pivot is improving in several areas, including face-offs. He is boasting a face-off percentage of 52.7 as he becomes more confident at center. Not to mention, he is making the most of his opportunities on the man advantage and is not only serving as a gifted playmaker with great hands and strong passing, but he is also shooting the puck more and more sure of himself as a shooter.
It’s a great sign for Washington and the Quebec native, who appears likely to make the pro jump next season.
Bear Hughes, Spokane Chiefs
Another player that is on the rise: Bear Hughes. The 2020 fifth-round pick is helping lead the Spokane Chiefs this season and making a tremendous impact at the WHL level. He is going hard on pucks and showcasing his speed and shot, and has seven goals and 19 points through 17 games at the junior level this season.
Hughes ranks second among active Spokane centers with a 55.6 face-off percentage, and his 12 assists are tied for the team lead. He ranks second in Chiefs goals, and his 38 shots rank sixth on the team. Not only that, he’s a catalyst on the man advantage, ranking first on Spokane in power-play goals (3) and power-play assists (8). The Idaho native has points in six of his last seven games, with 10 points total over that span. Hughes’ 1.12 points per game are also the highest of his career yet.
📽️ WHL Highlights – November 24, 2021
— The WHL (@TheWHL) November 25, 2021
The only area that he needs to improve in is backchecking, and that will get better over time as he continues to mold his overall game. Other than that, he is showing great potential at pivot and is another solid producer in the system for the Capitals.
Vincent Iorio, Brandon Wheat Kings
Washington’s first selection of the 2021 NHL Draft is having a solid post-draft year in Brandon. Skating on the top pairing, Iorio has two goals and 14 points through 21 games and is a plus-4, and he earned an invite along with Lapierre to attend Team Canada’s selection camp for the 2021 World Junior Championships.
He has been able to display great passing and playmaking ability, along with his wicked shot. The 6-3, 203-pound blueliner ranks 10th among all WHL blueliners in shots (66), and his five power-play assists rank third on the Wheat Kings. He is currently on a three-game point streak.
— Brandon Wheat Kings (@bdnwheatkings) November 27, 2021
Not only is Iorio contributing, but he has been reliable in his own end to boot. He uses his size to his advantage and gets physical, and he engages in battles for the puck while sticking up for his teammates. Iorio is able to track the play well and get it out of trouble and is also efficient on the penalty kill.
🎥 SAVE OF THE NIGHT 🎥
— The WHL (@TheWHL) November 11, 2021
Overall, he’s showing speed, skating well, effectively moving the puck up ice and joining the rush while remaining strong on the backcheck. He will fit in well with Peter Laviolette’s systems in the future.
Bogdan Trineyev, Dynamo Moscow
Trineyev suffered an injury in the preseason and had missed about a month in action, but he has managed to make an impact at the KHL and MHL levels. He is still gaining experience and finding his overall game, and has three assists in four games with MHK Dynamo Moskva. He has played 11 games at the KHL level so far.
The Russian power forward also got a spot on the roster for the Karjala Cup, but he did not play. In 2021, his MHL club won the 2021 Championship to take home the Kharlamov Cup.
Haakon Hanelt, Gatineau Olympiques
Hanelt got to play for Germany in the U20 summer showcase, posting three points in three games, and he was also invited to the Capitals’ rookie and training camps. However, he did not hit the ice for a majority of the action before heading to juniors for his rookie QMJHL campaign. He got off to a great start with the Gatineau Olympiques, dishing his first career goal, five points and eight shots through seven games.
However, he suffered an upper-body injury in November that required surgery. The German will remain around the team and be “evaluated on a daily basis by the team’s medical staff” as he recovers.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) October 10, 2021