Pittsburgh Penguins Offseason Grades: Assessing Maxim Lapierre’s Penguins Tenure


Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to prove that they’re stuck in an old school way of thinking. They continue to believe that veteran leadership and grit is important when the NHL post-season rolls around.

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That thought process is what impelled Rutherford to trade former Pittsburgh Penguins Center Marcel Goc to the St. Louis Blues for Maxim Lapierre.  Lapierre is said to be a playoff performer. He’s a guy that finds a new level during post-season contention, and has a lot of experience in the NHL playoffs.

I wrote an article specifically about his performance in the first round of this season’s playoffs against the New York Rangers, and I’ll admit that he was pretty good.  He was attention-grabbing, nagging, and outstanding on the penalty kill.  But, is he really what this team needs in order to become a true contender once again? And, do you give him a passing grade based on a few solid games?

Lapierre played 35 regular season games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, in which he registered two assists.  Now, I understand he wasn’t brought here to light up the scoreboard, so he must have contributed physically and defensively, right? Well… No.

Maxim Lapierre recorded 35 hits in those 35 games played. So, a guy that was brought here to be a physical presence averaged one hit per game.  He had very little impact to the physical side of things and was nearly invisible on the ice.  What about his defensive numbers?

Lapierre posted a horrid 45.59% corsi-for when playing 5v5 through his 35 regular season games with the Pittsburgh Penguins. And, I understand that your line mates have an impact on this as well, so I wanted to see the effect Lapierre had on his teammates that he spent the most time-on-ice with.  (Stats via stats.hockeyanalysis.com)

If you aren’t a stats person, that’s ok. While I use a lot of the more common metrics in my work, I’m far from an analytics expert. But, this is one of the simplest forms of determining a player’s impact on possession.  Imagine the above numbers as the percentage of total shot attempts taken while those individuals are on the ice together. Without Lapierre, the jump in shots-for vs. shots-against is obvious.  He simply creates nothing when he’s on the ice.

At this point we’ve covered the fact that Lapierre was invisible on the score sheet, non-existent as a physical threat, and possibly the worst possession player on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster this season.  So, what’s left?

As I said prior, he did have himself a pretty solid playoff series.  He didn’t show up on the score sheet, but he created a name for himself with the New York Rangers and they knew every time he stepped on the ice.  He caused chaos, frustration, and drew a few bad penalties as a result of his hard work.

For me, though, that simply isn’t enough.  You can’t have a player collecting $1.2 million that disappears in the regular season and then decides to turn it on physically when spring rolls around. If he lit the world on fire with points in the post-season, maybe this article has a different look to it.

I’m giving Max Lapierre an F.  With that failing grade I’m begging the Pittsburgh Penguins to do the right thing and let him walk this summer.  He offered nothing over what a young Center from Wilkes-Barre could give you, and I’d rather see young legs out there come playoff time.

Next: Offseason Grades: Marc-Andre Fleury - Team MVP

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