Up in Hershey, where the Capitals’ AHL affiliate plays, multiple former Capitals first-round picks fill out the lineup for the Calder Cup-hopeful Bears. Connor McMichael, Hendrix Lapierre and Lucas Johansen were all top-round selections for Washington and understand the territory that comes with being a first-round pick.
Lapierre, whom the Capitals selected 22nd overall in 2020, recently spoke with NBC Sports Washington to share some advice for his likely future teammate.
“It’s really just to enjoy it, don’t be stressed about it,” Lapierre said. “Wherever you go, it’s a great opportunity for you. Once you come [to Washington], it’s a whole new page. It’s new. It’s fun. … Just soak it all in.”
Lapierre’s perspective is impressive for a 21-year-old who’s had a whirlwind professional career thus far. Selected during the pandemic-impacted draft, Lapierre — considered a top-10 talent by analysts during the pre-draft process — fell to Washington at No. 22 largely due to a previous spinal cord injury.
In 2021, Lapierre made his NHL debut for the Capitals and scored his first career NHL goal in that game. But after just six appearances, Lapierre returned back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), where he’d play for the rest of the year.
Lapierre has spent the entirety of the 2022-23 campaign, his first full professional season, with Hershey. Following a February scratch that Lapierre said helped turn his season around, the 21-year-old has played a significant role as Hershey’s third-line center for a Bears team that’s now one win away from winning the Calder Cup.
The Gatineau, Quebec native specifically pointed out the resources the Capitals have provided him since he joined the organization, from the massage therapists to the trainers to everyone else that’s helped him stay healthy and remain on the ice.
“Everyone is on the same page,” he said. “A lot of great people here. It’s really fun.”
Three years since being drafted, Lapierre said he’s “really happy” to be part of the Capitals’ organization. He believes whoever the Capitals pick at No. 8 next week will eventually feel the same way.
“It’s been a good ride with me with Washington so far,” Lapierre said. “We have a great group of guys. I’m sure the guy that’s going to come in is going to be super happy, too.”
Once the Calder Cup Finals ends, Lapierre will have the chance to reflect on his first professional season before gearing up for training camp in a couple of months. Under new Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery, he will at least have the chance to compete for a roster spot come September.
What the immediate future holds for Lapierre remains uncertain, but the 21-year-old is thrilled to be part of the franchise moving forward.
“I feel like me playing for the Caps and the Bears, it’s a sense of pride,” Lapierre said. “It’s really fun. It’s a good ride. As I said, you’ve got a lot of resources, people to help you. I consider myself very lucky to be drafted to Washington. There’s obviously still a lot of things I want to accomplish, playing full-time and stuff, but it’s been good.”
Source: Yahoo Sports