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Hendrix Lapierre Missed Team Canada, But Don't Fret, Capitals Fans

The Washington Capitals prospect is a rare case of a teenager getting into NHL action and not making their country out of world junior selection camp. But this is just one speedbump in what's already been a busy career for the young forward.
Hendrix Lapierre

Hendrix Lapierre

It's not every day a teenager plays a handful of NHL games and somehow doesn't make their World Junior Championship team.

That's the situation Hendrix Lapierre finds himself in. Despite playing the first six games of the season with the Washington Capitals, Lapierre failed to make Canada's World Junior Championship roster that was officially named on Sunday evening.

It was a bit of a surprise, to say the least. Through nine games with Acadie-Bathurst, Lapierre has a solid 14 points His 1.56 points-per-game average is good for 10th in the QMJHL, albeit in a small sample size. 

Long story short? He wasn't good enough in camp and Canada went in a different direction. Simple as that.

The fact of the matter is, Canada's roster didn't lack in offensive talent. so Lapierre had to be better at something that helped him stand out. Many scouts said his smaller frame and average speed is what pushed him down to 22nd overall in 2020, and that doesn't lend well to a bottom-six at a tournament like this. Scoring won't be an issue - otherwise, they wouldn't have sent two top-five QMJHL scorers in Joshua Roy and William Dufour.

The numbers are good in league play. He just had a bad couple days in Calgary.

Lapierre definitely struggled in Canada's camp, with zero points in two games. Not that that's a big sample size to really peg performance levels or anything, but Canada definitely wanted more. In 2019, Lapierre had 11 points in five games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup for Canada, second only to Cole Perfetti. Typically, past performances with Canada helps a player out when trying to make the WJC squad, especially when that same player has NHL experience. 

Lapierre was a bit of a surprise to make the Capitals out of camp thanks to having just 40 games played the two years prior. But he earned a spot, and deserved the opportunity to play with the big boys out of training camp. It didn't work out, but playing with pros can be a major learning experience for a young prospect, and it has translated well to his club play – his numbers, while nothing absolutely mind-blowing, are proof.

These are all important experiences for someone still early in their development. Lapierre won't have another chance to play at the World Junior Championship, but that won't define him as a prospect. This year, like most, Canada had to make a ton of difficult cuts. It's just unusual for someone to make an NHL team, get sent down to junior and then not make their respective country.

Lapierre is known for his abilities as a play-maker, but for being 6-foot-0, he can get pushed around rather easily. His defensive game isn't overly notable, either, but you can't deny just how good he is at making his teammates better around him and creating the opportunities a team needs to thrive. Lapierre has done it at just about every level so far, and there's no reason to believe he won't in the NHL one day, either.

"He's a tremendous playmaker," a Quebec-based scout said. "No doubt he'll be a good NHLer. Just needs to iron things out to bring more value in a bottom six."

Canada's coaching staff said they weren't interested in bringing an all-star team. In all honesty, a Canadian B-team would be better than the majority of the nations competing in Alberta later this month. Had Lapierre figured a way to make himself undeniable in the eyes of Canada's coaching brass, he'd probably be playing a crucial top-nine role. But, again, Canada has no issue finding players that can create offense, and if there are better options to fill out more physical or defensive roles deeper in the lineup, Canada will go that route instead.

So, don't fret, Capitals fans. As the team looks to a future where new faces will need to step up and replace the core that did a ton of damage over the past decade, Lapierre could end up being a surprising scorer in the NHL, or maybe he finds his groove as a reliable third-line center at the NHL level once he rounds out his game. The Caps clearly feel highly of the youngster to give him a chance before his junior career was over, and that's good.

If anything, Lapierre has the poster board material he needs to go on an absolute rampage in the second half of the season. That's the bait Capitals fans really should want right now.

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