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Blackhawks’ No. 17 pick in 2020 NHL Draft: Making case for Hendrix Lapierre

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The Chicoutimi Saguenéens center is one of the most exciting offensive players in the draft but has a concerning injury history.

Chicoutimi Sagueneens v Blainville-Boisbriand Armada Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Second City Hockey staff will profile 10 players leading up to the 2020 NHL Draft, which will start Oct. 6, the Blackhawks could have the opportunity to select at No. 17 overall.

Hendrix Lapierre will have missed 11 months of hockey when the QMJHL season starts. Part of that is due to outstanding circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic, but part of it is also due to a string of injuries and either concussions or concussion-like symptoms caused by a neck injury.

That puts a damper on Lapierre, who otherwise is an incredibly skilled forward with the ability to get up the ice through evasive and creative abilities. He’s not much of a goal scorer — he only had two goals in 19 QMJHL games (although he had 44 shots) — but has the tools to run a power play as a playmaker.

Lapierre started the 2019-20 season with one of the best Hlinka Gretzky Cup runs of all time. Lapierre scored 11 points — the same amount as projected top overall pick Alexis Lafreniere — and more than NHL stars like Tyler Seguin and Teuvo Teravainen (both had 10).

Lapierre could use some work defensively, but he has been excellent offensively throughout his years in the QMJHL. He’s a rare type of playmaker.

Modeling his game after Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov feels like an apt comparison for Lapierre. Kuznetsov has scored more than 25 goals just once in his career but has three seasons with more than 50 assists. If Lapierre stays healthy, that’s within the realm of possibility.

Mitch Brown’s Tracking Project

Lapierre hasn’t shown a consistency in getting to the high-danger area or an aggressive backcheck mentality. He has shown a consistent ability to transition with the puck and to win faceoffs (51.9 percent on 237 attempts last season), and could translate those skills into a top-six center role.

That’s the big question with Lapierre though. He’ll only be as good as his health. Right now, Lapierre is second in the QMJHL’s preseason with eight points.

“[He’s] very skilled, very good skater, possession player. One of the elite playmakers in the draft,” Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said on the Blackhawks Talk Podcast.

Organizational fit

Kirby Dach seems destined to be the successor to Jonathan Toews. Dach shown an ability to play both ends of the ice well and was put on the penalty kill in the postseason. He also can play at the net-front and shown an ability to drive the net.

But he’s not somebody who seems destined to put up consistent points. All the little things he does right but he may not score as many points. This postseason he scored three primary points and one goal. He scored 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 64 regular season games.

That’s where Lapierre would come in. He could compliment Dach as a second-line center and slot in on the power play.

Basics

Position: Center

Age: 18 (Feb. 9, 2002)

Hometown: Gatineau, Quebec

Height: 6 foot

Weight: 181 pounds

Shoots: Left

Team: Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)

Draft rankings

NHL Central Scouting (NHL): No. 13 North American skater

Elite Prospects: No. 27

Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): No. 22

Corey Pronman (The Athletic): No. 24

Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects): No. 28

Craig Button (TSN): No. 10