Who Is This Guy?
Weight: 207 lbs.
Born: March 29, 1985 in Saint Leonard, Quebec
Drafted: 2nd round, 61st overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2003
What did he do?
Lapierre played all 82 games for the Canucks this season, one of just five Canucks to do so. He is a very versatile player, and as a result saw time in a variety of different roles, including a decent amount of time on the penalty kill. He also fought seven times during the season.
Lapierre spent much of his time on the Canucks fourth line, where he played alongside Manny Malhotra and the rotating linemate du jour (Dale Weise, Andrew Ebbett, Byron Bitz, Aaron Volpati, etc.). However, when Daniel Sedin was injured for the final nine regular season and first three playoff games, Lapierre saw time on the top line alongside Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows.
So, was he any good?
Lapierre's stat line may look unimpressive: 9 goals, 10 assists, -3, and 130 PIM (the most on the team by 36, and significantly padded by a number of misconduct penalties). But keep in mind that his 19 points actually represented the second best point total of Lapierre's career, behind a 15-12-28 season with Montreal in 2008-09.
However, Lapierre's value to the team is not measured in goals and assists. Rather, he is a prototypical grinder who is valued for his versatility. Not surprisingly, given that he was on the fourth line for much of the season, Lapierre started just 22.2% of his faceoffs in the offensive zone - not quite Malhotra-esque, but still fourth lowest on the team amongst players with more than 6 games played (sorry Mike Duco). Lapierre also drew the most penalties of any player on the team - seemingly a testament to his peskiness and sheer hustle.
That hustle I was talking about? Oh yeah, check this out:
That being said, the guy can dangle a little too:
And, of course, he's just so cuddly that even opponents can't help petting his adorable head:
But, He Wasn't Perfect Either, Right?
Lapierre is far from perfect. As much as the Canucks have toned down the between-the-whistle antics for which they are now widely known, the man who last June taunted Patrice Bergeron by waving his fingers into the Bruin's face still has his moments of pure pest-ness. He racked up 16 PIMs in the First Round series against the Los Angeles Kings, which included a 10-minute misconduct in a Game 2 loss. Lapierre plays on the edge, which works to his advantage much of the time, but if this team is to take the next step in the playoffs it cannot afford bad penalties at bad times. Lapierre needs to learn when to reign in the peskiness if he is to avoid such detrimental actions.
It would be nice to see more offense from Lapierre, as he certainly has the ability to contribute more. However, given the fourth line role in which he is typically deployed by Coach Vigneault, his production is more than adequate. He didn't exactly tear it up while playing with Henrik and Burrows, however his 6 points in the final 9 games of the season certainly indicate that he could play a larger offensive role on this team if given the chance. Given the Canucks' depth at forward, however, this seems unlikely to happen.
So, What Now?
Lapierre is under contract for next season at an extremely reasonable $1 million cap hit. Pending the Canucks' offseason moves, he will likely play a similar fourth line role in 2012-13. It is possible, assuming that the Canucks do not retain UFA Sami Pahlsson, that Lapierre could slide into the third line centre role between Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen. It seems likely, however, that the Canucks will address this vacancy elsewhere and that Lapierre will again provide top-notch fourth line duty next season.