21. Columbus Blue Jackets: Hendrix Lapierre C – 6’, 181 lbs
Jarmo Kekalainen is a GM that is known for taking chances on players with an elite skill set, but a few question marks. His selection of Pierre-Luc Dubois over consensus #3 pick Jesse Puljujarvi in 2016 is a prime example. At this point, the Blue Jackets are looking rather thin at forward and Hendrix Lapierre, despite the potential health issues down the road, is exactly the type of ”boom or bust” pick that has brought him fortune over the years.
Hendrix Lapierre has the talent to be ranked 15th or 16th in anyone’s rankings. He has the vision and Hockey IQ to drive a line by himself, as he can attract double coverage towards him with his effective and mystifying stickhandling, before sending off a dish to a streaking forward for a zone exit or scoring chance. Lapierre is able to attract defenders as he begins to pick up speed. What makes Lapierre’s playmaking elite is how deceptive he is in his passing; in fact, playmaking has always been Lapierre’s bread and butter.
Hendrix Lapierre has been the most consistently dangerous offensive player for the Canadians thus far at the Hlinka— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) August 6, 2019
He makes it 3-0 CAN over SUI in the first frame pic.twitter.com/EhExqsneBF
Thankfully, due to his training over the last 9 months he is almost 20 lbs heavier and more prone to attack the play aggressively. If this pre-season rush is any indication of Lapierre’s newfound confidence, coupled with playing with 2020-eligible Dawson Mercer this season, he looks primed to shatter his goalscoring totals from 2 seasons ago, possibly even within the first half of the season.
Hendrix Lapierre is looking around 20lbs heavier. Happy to see that he’s starting to look for his own shot. He would have passed that puck 9 time out of 10 last year. The level of competition is really weak but he’s trending in the right direction. He might be in my next video👀 pic.twitter.com/hf97OE1VXd— Yannick St-Pierre (@DraftDynasty1) September 3, 2020
It’s worth noting that Lapierre’s latest injury scare was not actually a concussion but a neck issue that is resolved and unlikely to bother the young forward at all moving forward. Removing significant doubt in the health concerns surrounding him will likely see Lapierre rise on many scouting lists.
Futhermore, John Torterella is a coach that demands strength up the middle on his teams, and with Alexandre Texier and Liam Foudy possibly being shifted to the win long-term, this could be an ideal pick for Columbus to get that elite #2 C to play behind Dubois for years to come.
22. New York Rangers (via Hurricanes): Mavrik Bourque C/RW – 5’10, 165 lbs
I feel guilty having Mavrick Bourque this low, as he is in the top-20 of my own personal rankings. However, similarly to Seth Jarvis at 16, I feel Bourque could fall to the early/mid-20s due to concerns over his size. From a pure talent perspective, he’s a top-20 talent that could either become a very capable 2nd line C or top-6 RW moving forward. He plays a style eerily reminiscent of Anthony Beauvilier
What sets Bourque apart from the other prospects in this draft is certainly his his combinations of skill, grit, determination and speed. He continues to impress scouts and fans across the QMJHL every night with his dazzling dekes and his great top-end speed.
Deception is the key to Bourque’s game, as the opposition simply does not know what he is going to do, simply due to his incredible combination of speed and Hockey IQ and skill. I think he is one of the smartest overall players in this Draft, and that kind of hockey sense cannot be taught. He is able to check and play a gritty game, which bodes well for his NHL career, but I think he has far more untapped potential as a goal-scorer than many let on.
Check out this outrageous backhand pass Mavrik Bourque fired through two defenders. Makes that read and executes in what, a second? pic.twitter.com/ogKh5XTgwb— Will Scouch (@Scouching) September 3, 2020
Having a player like Bourque falling to them here is a huge win for the Rangers. In Bourque, they now have insurance at the centre ice position and another right-han ded shot in their pipeline. Furthermore, Bourque’s ability to play both C and RW will make him invaluable in completing a future top-6 for the Rangers. You just can’t pass on that kind of value at 22nd overall.
23. Philadelphia Flyers: Lukas Reichel LW – 6’, 170 lbs
The Flyers have a pretty well rounded roster and prospect pool, so this pick is really hard to make. They would need a forward who can play both a grit and skill game; capable of playing through tight games and winning his puck battles more often than not. Combine that with a killer work ethic and an underrated shot, and you’ve just described Lukas Reichel!
Jumping into the DEL for Eisbaren Berlin this season, Reichel’s strong work ethic and underrated vision were on full display. He can fit in whatever role you provide him, be it a checker, a complimentary player to an offensive powerhouse in Tim Stutzle for the World Junior Championships, or a defensive forward during tight games.
Reichel can do it all, and quite effectively. Reichel is not just a checker though, as he has the offensive gifts, such as his very powerful wrist shot, especially off the rush,which allowed him to score 12 goals in his rookie year in the DEL. In the sequence above during the WOrld Juniors we see Reichel’s ability to turn on the jets rather quickly and help catch up to his streaking teammate to create a 2 on 1. However, what is more impressive is the slide-through power on his wrist shot and the precision it has to hit a low % hole in the goaltender’s coverage.
He’s incredibly gifted at maintaining puck possession in high-pressure situartions. He uses his frame effectively and has a motor that never ends, it allows him to create offensive chances through sheer determination and intelligent passing.
Lukas Reichel is one of the most underrated players in this draft.— Evan (@Shattenkirk) May 13, 2020
Mini thread: (hope the quality holds up)
Strong play on the boards ➡️ Puck to the point ➡️ Instantly shows himself as an option ➡️ Approach he takes keeps the forwards stick out of the lane ➡️ Goal pic.twitter.com/ipJATVnhNq
I wouldn’t be surprised at seeing Reichel go higher, but ultimately felt players with better potential needed to be put ahead. However, in Reichel a team will get a potential top-6 player that is always in constant motion and rarely ever makes the wrong play, while possessing the smarts and skill to contribute offensively. Great value at this point in the draft for the Flyers.
24. Washington Capitals: Emil Andrae LD – 5’9, 181 lbs
Andrae is one of those small, yet dynamic defenders capable of owning the puck in transition and making highlight-reel plays due to his elite hockey-IQ and his complete offensive toolbox. He would be a huge get for the Capitals at this rank, as they currently lack a top-end defensive prospect with the skills of Andrae.
He is extremely efficient in getting pucks on net for deflections or rebounds and is often found joining the rush as the 4th man to aid in support. Furthermore, Andrae is known for his exceptional hands and stickhandling for a defenseman. Defensively, he is able to use his positioning and active stick to limit zone entries, but doesn’t shy away from forechecking pressure when the puck is put in deep. In fact, he is quite good and getting possession of the puck and skating it out himself.
I also love the way Andrae attacks the open ice aggressively, which forces opposing forwards to back off the puck. Andrae is then able to distribute the puck effectively to an open man. He can quite literally shake off opponents by deaking them out of their pants, recouping the puck and making elite-level passes to open teammates for a scoring chance.
Emil Andrae hade show i sista perioden! pic.twitter.com/ljUQyWI1dD— HV71 (@HV71) September 5, 2020
His elite hockey IQ and improved skating stride make him an ideal candidate for the Washington Capitals to further bolster their blueline moving forward. With Andrae already playing big minutes in the SHL to start the season this is a calculated risk worth taking for the Capitals.
25. Colorado Avalanche: Brendan Brisson C/LW – 5’11, 177 lbs
This may be surprising to many, but Brendan Brisson just brings the complete kind of game that NHL GMs love zoning in on at this point in the Draft. Joe Sakic is likely thinking ahead to a future core and a guy like Brisson would bring some unique tools to his prospect pool.
The Chicago Steel standout was very impressive in the USHL mainly due to his exceptional Hockey IQ and his fluid skating. Committed to the University of Michigan next season, Brisson possesses all the tools to make it to the NHL. What makes Brisson an attractive value at this stage in the rankings is simply the way he thinks the game. He is both incredibly intelligent and fearless, meaning he’s a player that will use his skill in tight spaces to make incredible plays.
Brendan Brisson, just magic. pic.twitter.com/eorgGJxEB1— Future Scope Hockey (@FSHockeycenter) March 24, 2020
His 24 goals and 35 assists for 59 points in 45 games puts him in impressive company amongst USHL players, but don’t let the offensive numbers fool you, because he can impact the game in all three zones. He plays a responsible and physical game, all while constantly hounding the opposition for the puck. While also being effective in transition, Brendan is very effective at neutral zone possession, allowing him to execute seamless zone exits and zone entries on the rush.
It is worth noting that due to his great vision and speed of execution, Brisson is an exceptional playmaker in tight. He is able to force toward high danger areas, attract defenders, and feed open temmates on a regular basis (the sequence below highlights Brisson’s game in a nutshell).
Most people will have Brendan Brisson in the 2nd round, but I see a surefire NHL talent with legit top-6 upside. He has all the tools to impact the game in all three zones, while playing a warrior’s style on the ice. That’s exactly what the Avalanche are missing in their prospect pool, and they won’t pass on it at this rank.