This month and into June, we'll break down NHL draft options for the Flyers, who have seven selections this year and would currently pick 26th in the first round.
Today, we’ll look at an impressive center who could fall into the Flyers’ range because of injury concerns.
Team: Chicoutimi Saguenéens
Lapierre was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in the QMJHL for the 2018-19 season, posting 13 goals and 32 assists for Chicoutimi.
He had a difficult year in 2019-20, both on and off the ice, and was limited to 19 games (two goals, 15 assists). The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler chronicled Lapierre’s injuries, which included worrisome cervical issues initially thought to be concussions. The good news is that, before the QMJHL season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lapierre was making progress in rehab and the tentative plan was for him to play in the Saguenéens’ final two or three regular-season games.
The 18-year-old is a highly skilled two-way player who controls the puck very well and has plenty of poise and patience. Lapierre, who manned the right half wall on the Saguenéens’ power play, is an excellent passer, the kind that can lead his teammates into open space and create scoring chances from nothing. As a 16-year-old playing in the QMJHL, Lapierre quickly learned the importance of playing hard on both ends.
Lapierre isn’t renowned for his scoring, although he told TSN’s Mark Masters that his shot has “gotten a lot better” while he’s been sidelined. The Gatineau, Quebec, native is also not especially physical or explosive.
The bottom line, though, is that Lapierre is widely considered one of the most talented players in the draft. He told Masters he sees himself as being similar to Evgeny Kuznetsov and is looking to model his game after Aleksander Barkov, too.
“Lapierre is the wild card of this draft. … I think he’s a top-five player if he can return to full health,” TSN’s Craig Button said in March. “He’s the best two-way player in the draft.”
Fit with Flyers
In an April 25 phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall, Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said, "Obviously you’d want the big, scoring, playmaking center, anybody does. We’re in a position where we’ll likely be taking the best player available.”
If Lapierre drops to the back of the first round and the Flyers have a chance to take him, there’s a real chance he’d be the best player available. The team would, of course, need to feel comfortable with his injury situation — his most recent medical reports have been submitted to NHL Central Scouting, according to Wheeler — but he could be a good value pick, perhaps even a steal.
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