The Capitals are hoping they got a bargain with their first-round pick. Seeing center Hendrix Lapierre still available at No. 22, the Caps elected to trade up from No. 24 to select Lapierre with their first-round pick on Tuesday. Washington traded away picks No. 24 and No. 80 to the Calgary Flames to snag him, meaning the Caps' next pick will not be until the fourth round.
Lapierre is a mid-round talent who began to drop in the draft due to injury concerns. He was initially diagnosed with three concussions over a 10-month span, but, according to The Athletic, he was later diagnosed with twisted vertebrae that caused concussion-like symptoms. Still, the injuries were enough to make a player who was the 2018 QMJHL first overall pick and who scored 45 points in 48 games in the 2018-19 season fall in the first round where the Caps snagged him, leap-frogging the Philadelphia Flyers to do so.
"Right now, I believe it's not a risk anymore," Lapierre told NBCSN of his injury issues. "But obviously I had a really tough season last year with the injuries and wasn't able to be with my teammates as much. It was really a tough year wanting to be on the ice that much. I feel like being drafted today, especially by Washington, is absolutely amazing. I feel like it's the cherry on the sundae to a pretty negative season, so looking forward to the future and really, really happy."
Lapierre has a high hockey IQ and is a decent skater even if he doesn't have great speed. He is a pass-first playmaker who projects to be a top-six center and can run a power play.
The fact that there was no combine and teams were not able to get their own medical evaluations on Lapierre likely contributed to his falling in the draft. The Caps are hoping that is to their gain and are evidently very confident that he will be. By trading up for him, Lapierre will now be the team's only pick in the first three rounds of the 2020 draft, unless the team makes any other trades to move back into the second or third round.
"It's an amazing feeling," Lapierre said. "Growing up, Washington was probably one of my favorite teams because of [Alex] Ovechkin, so wearing that jersey today, it feels really good. Obviously, the fact that they traded for me feels pretty good, as well. I feel like it can't be really negative. Looking forward to the future."