Hendrix Lapierre, the Washington Capitals’ first-round draft selection in 2020, shocked many when he made the NHL roster out of Training Camp last season. The talented center was just 19 years old when he made his NHL debut with the Caps and in that game, he scored his first career goal.
The Quebec native would go on to play in five more NHL games. Now, with Training Camp just a handful of days away, Lapierre says he is ready to do all of that again plus-some.
Monday, the talented center met with the media after completing the four on-ice days of Rookie Camp. Before 2021’s Training Camp, he had the exact same chance to get on the ice with coaches and rookie teammates in a more structured setting before the NHL preseason officially began.
“It’s kind of an opportunity as a player to get ready for the main camp,” Lapierre said. “Whether it’s on the ice with the cardio side of it, just the skating, the mental side of it. It’s pretty good to have Rookie Camp. I wouldn’t say it gives us an edge but it can’t be a negative thing. I think this year I feel as a group we did a really good job of building the intensity up and making sure everyone was going 100 percent. I think everyone is ready for main camp now.”
Lapierre has had an offseason chock full of hockey to try and build upon what he accomplished last season. In July he got to experience his first Development Camp after COVID-19 spoiled both previous iterations of the camp he would have attended. He also skated all summer with NHL veterans like Kris Letang, Jonathan Huberdeau, Anthony Beauvillier, and Marco Scandella back home in Quebec. In recent weeks he was one of the first attendees at informal Capitals practices at the team’s training facility.
“I know what I did last year and I want to do it again and do it even better,” Lapierre said. “It’s just showing that I gained an extra step this summer and that I’m ready to play wherever they want me to play. I’ll be ready, that’s for sure. I’ve been training all summer for this and now it’s time to go. Pretty excited.”
During Development Camp, Lapierre spoke to reporters about his main goal, which was to add strength and good weight to his frame over the summer. At the NHLPA Rookie Showcase in early September, he confirmed that he has done just that.
“This is the summer I put on the most muscle and the most amount of weight,” Lapierre said then. “I’m very happy about that. Hopefully, I can keep growing and keep getting stronger.”
Since being drafted, Lapierre has acknowledged that his smaller body type and frame could hold him back from being able to consistently produce in the top league in the world. Diet and weight training have been two key things he has harped on almost every single time he has been in town and available for media questions.
“It’s a very classic answer but for me, it was really about putting weight on,” Lapierre continued Monday. “Smart weight, not fat obviously, but just being more heavy. I feel like playing 82 games against grown men, 30 to 35-year-old guys (mandates that). Get bigger, get stronger. I feel like it’s a cliche answer but it was really that for me. Try to eat a lot, spend as much time as I could in the gym without burning myself out. I feel like with what we’ve seen in the last couple weeks just with fitness results and stuff like that, everything is positive.”
Lapierre said during the Capitals’ July Development Camp that he was “around 185” pounds. Monday he confirmed that he is “about 190” now. But, it wasn’t just a protein-heavy, gym-filled summer for the young prospect. He also got into the film lab to study the more cerebral side of the game.
“I watched a lot of videos this summer,” Lapierre said. “I’m someone who is good with visual. I can learn a lot from visual. I watched guys like (Patrice) Bergeron, (Elias) Lindholm, and Sebastian Aho. They are guys that are very good on both sides of the ice and they can make plays offensively too. They’re guys that I try to watch their games, see what they do, and try to mimic it on the ice.”
Lapierre turned 20 last February which makes him eligible to play the entire 2022-23 season in the American Hockey League with the Hershey Bears. With the additions of Dylan Strome and Marcus Johansson at the NHL level via free agency, it’s clear that the AHL is the more likely route his next year will follow. However, those facts will not stop him from trying to change the narrative once Training Camp begins.
“You can’t arrive at camp and not have the mentality of making that team,” Lapierre said. “You’ve got to be a confident player and as I’ve said before, I think I’ve put myself in a situation to have success with what I’ve done this summer. Obviously, the goal is to make that team. It’s been in my head ever since I got eliminated last year from the QMJHL and it’s still in my head. Now, it’s go time and I’ll be ready. Whatever happens, happens but I don’t want to have any regrets kind of like last year. Play my game and see what happens.”
Capitals Training Camp begins in just three days and the team’s first preseason game is scheduled for Sunday, September 25 against the Buffalo Sabres.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.