Who's this guy?
Born: March 29, 1985 in Saint Leonard, Quebec, the same city that has a hockey arena named after he WHO WILL NOT BE NAMED.
History: Drafted in the 2nd round (61st overall) by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. In that same round Vancouver took Marc-Andre Bernier at 60th who's never stepped foot on NHL ice, which is only slightly more infuriating when you see that David Backes and Jimmy Howard were taken at 62nd and 64th respectively.
What'd he do?
Off the bat he was healthy (only he and Henrik Sedin played in every game), so for a team that is often snake-bitten with random injuries (hello David!) it's an important attribute, especially for a versatile depth player who jumped between the third and fourth line pivot positions. His average TOI (12:36) was nearly a minute and half more than last season, giving him the most TOI since he was with Montreal in 2008. Better yet he kept his PIM tendencies in check: while still ranked 5th highest on the team with 45 PIMs, that represents .94 minutes per game, the third lowest of his career and 59% less than his average for last year when he finished with a team high 130 PIMs. Lastly, his 50.6 FO% was the best on the team, including a 52.4% on the road.
He scored his first goal seven games into the season against Colorado and would go another 18 before he notched his second against Nashville in his only multi-point game of the season. The last game of the season he played an unusually high 18 minutes (since AV was resting the top players for the playoffs) and he responded with a -4 and a game misconduct.
Like everyone else he was largely invisible against San Jose in the first round, going pointless with a +1, 6 PIMs and four shots.
So was he any good?
|CORSI Rel QoC||-0.184||-0.018|
|Pens Drawn / 60||0.2||1.1|
Gauging depth players like Lapierre is tough to do staring at the score sheet, though he was scoring about .21 pts per game as opposed to .23 pts last year so give him 82 real games and chances are he'd be about a 20 pt guy again.
On defense some elements went his way - 18 blocked shots would most likely eclipse his 24 from last year and he once again lead the team in hits (116) - but if you look to the fourth line to keep the other guys off the board while the top nine take a breather, Lappy slipped up. He faced easy opposition (of those who played 20+ games only Dale Weise, Jordan Schroeder and Tom Sestito had it easier) but still saw his GA increase at even and on the kill. Another knock were penalties drawn where both he and Schroeder (again 20+ GP minimum) were the worst of all the forwards.
If you're a Lappy fan, you could spread some of the blame around to the quality of his linemates as Lapierre spent most of the season anchored to the likes of Weise, Sestito, Steve Pinizzotto in addition to the third pairing on defense so...yeah. It's a good bet he missed getting some better assignments alongside Malhotra or whoever this is, but thems the breaks of a fourth line life. On the plus side his line didn't cough up any goals against Sharks in the first round so...hooray?
What'd we like?
Boring Jimmy Howard to sleep for the score
Classic Lappy reaction here
Ebbett to Lapierre. Crazier things, no?
Behold the power of hanging out with Kesler more often
Cool. So what did we hate?
If you want to bark at his production, you can point at four goals being the second worst of his career and six assists which is tied for the second worst total of his career. But then you remember it was half a season and he was basically a fourth liner and move on.
The playoffs have also been a problem: he has one point in his last nine playoff games and his last goal came in game six of the 2011 Cup Finals. Since then his playoff TOI has shrunk from 13:34 to 9:30 but, once again, that has to be balanced how AV used him which changed a lot since the Cup run.
So the worst knock against Lapierre is he didn't make his linemates any better or more defensively responsible like Malhotra could. You could point to his hits being a valuable commodity (why you're doing that I'm not sure), but the team has plenty of younger hitters now (Zack Kassian and Sestito). Lapierre has shown he can be successful in the right situations, but last season should be left off his highlight reel.
Also - *puts tinfoil hat firmly on* - you could argue having some "colorful" lifers around like Kevin Bieksa, Alexandre Burrows, Ryan Kesler and others means you don't really need another guy who gives the refs more reason to look twice your way.
So what now?
Lapierre is not a costly bottom six option and considering they already locked up Sestito it would stand to reason the brass has discussed who is a priority on the bottom end of the roster. As it turns it, Lappy may not be part of that and since Vancouver still needs to find a new bench boss and prepare for the draft, it's probable that Lappy will hit the market on July 1. With guys like Brendan Gaunce chomping at the bit, Gillis saying his team has to get younger and no shortage of bottom six options out there in the world, Vancouver has some bigger needs to address.
Personally I'd like to see Lapierre back as I'd hope under a new coach, he can focus more on being a complete player and if he ends on the fourth line again, maybe he can shift to the wing instead of leading them down the middle. Also the UFA market at center seems, well, thin.
But if Vancouver lets him hit UFA I doubt he'll be free by the time Vancouver comes calling, so if that happens let's hope he doesn't land on a roster that is already full of irritating players. Go east young man.