Maxim Lapierre’s 2015-16 season saw him start the year in Sweden and finish his campaign in Switzerland, and one year overseas was enough for the 31-year-old to realize he wants to be back in the NHL next season.
In an interview with TVA Sports Tuesday, Lapierre said the lack of a one-way offer in the NHL or the promise of only a professional-tryout deal wasn’t enough for him to want to stick around in North America. So when he got an offer from MODO, he headed to Sweden to join the club. Lapierre played 34 games with MODO, scoring eight goals and 19 points, but left the club in January to head to Switzerland’s HC Lugano, where he netted two goals and four points in six games before adding another goal and four points in 15 playoff games.
"My speed helped me a lot to adapt to the European style of play and bigger rinks,” Lapierre said. “They thought I wouldn’t touch the puck because I was an agitator in the NHL, but to get (to the NHL), you also have to have the skills.”
Drafted in the second round, 61st overall, by the Montreal Canadiens in 2003, Lapierre quickly became best known his agitating style of play. He picked up nearly 600 penalty minutes in nine seasons and was often tasked with getting under the skin of the opposition’s top players.
Lapierre is far removed from his best campaign, which came during the 2008-09 season when he scored 15 goals and 28 points in 79 games in his first full season with Montreal. He never again eclipsed the 10-goal or 20-point plateaus, though he flirted with both during his time as a Vancouver Canuck and St. Louis Blue.
If nothing else, he could come back into the league as a decent depth option for a team that needs a veteran to fill a spot. Lapierre was most effective when used as a penalty killer, and if he’s given a specialized role as an agitator and penalty killer, he could help out a team seeking some help in those areas.
Lapierre’s exit from the NHL wasn’t exactly shocking, but he had never seemed out of place in the league as a third- or fourth-line player. The 31-year-old has played in more than 600 NHL games and has amassed 65 goals and 139 points over that time. Lapierre’s career has seen him suit up in Montreal, Anaheim, Vancouver, St. Louis and Pittsburgh. His last game in the NHL came during the 2014-15 post-season as a member of the Penguins.