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Grading the Crunch Rookies: Alex Barre-Boulet continues to impress

A look at the Syracuse Crunch rookies after 22 games.

Scott Thomas Photography

Now that the Syracuse Crunch have passed the 20-game mark, we have a little bit more of an idea of how the rookies are doing. This article will by no means be an exhaustive analytical breakdown of their game. Yup, we’re going old-fashioned eye test on this one.

The stats listed are what they’ve done since their last report card.

Ross Colton (17 games, 2 goals, 5 assists)

Previous Grade: B

Current Grade: B

Colton keeps doing what the Crunch ask him to do - center a bottom-six line and kill penalties. His numbers might not be as gaudy as some of his fellow rookies, but that doesn’t mean his contributions have been less important. He’s also been healthy, which, with the way the middle of the line-up has been struck down by injury this year for the Crunch, has been quite important.

Alex Barre-Boulet (19 games, 9 goals, 12 assists)

Previous Grade: B+

Current Grade: A

There have been only six games this season in which Barre-Boulet hasn’t recorded a point. In those six games he was robbed of a goal roughly 456 times. That might be a bit of an overstatement, but it shouldn’t take away from how good he’s been for the Crunch so far this season.

Other than Cory Conacher, he’s been the most consistent player on the Crunch roster this year. He’s currently in the midst of 12-game scoring streak and is seemingly getting better every time he steps out on the ice.

Despite getting a lot of press for his playmaking skills, Barre-Boulet isn’t a “pass-first” player. He leads the team in shots with 66 and is more than happy to drive the net if a pass isn’t available. While a lot of his goals (7) have been on the power play, his five-on-five play has been growing stronger as the season wears on.

After his performance against the Marlies on Wednesday, the rest of hockey is starting to realize that the Lightning may have struck gold once again in the undrafted free agent market.

Oleg Sosunov (2 games, 0 goals, 0 assists)

Previous Grade: B

Current Grade: Incomplete

The Sosunov experiment lasted five games. which seems about right. He is a work-in-progress and right now, so getting reps in Orlando is much more productive for his development than sitting in the press box in Syracuse. Coach Groulx’s system demands a lot out of defenseman and Sosunov isn’t quite ready for it.

Taylor Raddysh (18 games, 8 goals, 6 assists)

Previous Grade: C

Current Grade: B+

Following a healthy scratch in October, Raddysh has shown the talent that makes him such an intriguing prospect for the Lightning. He just scores goals. There isn’t anything flashy about his game, he just has a knack for getting into the right areas to put the puck in the back of the net.

He’s kind of like Alex Killorn in that way (minus the falling down). He’s a big kid that can dig the puck out of the corners and control the area in front of the net. It will also seem like he hasn’t shown up in awhile then the next thing you know he’s putting together a four or five game scoring streak.

Boris Katchouk (17 games, 3 goals, 2 assists)

Previous Grade: C+

Current Grade: B-

It’s been very hard to get a read on Katchouk this season. He’s spent a lot of time on the opposite wing from Raddysh, but hasn’t been putting up the offense. He’s had power play time, but isn’t scoring any goals. What he has become is an excellent penalty killer. Two of his three goals have come short-handed and Coach Groulx hasn’t hesitated to throw him over the boards on the penalty kill or during close games.

He also only has 23 shots on goal this season. That is the second lowest amount among forwards that have played at least 15 games for Syracuse this season. He has a pretty good shot when he chooses to unleash it, so it would be nice to see him take a few more chances.

Cal Foote (19 games, 2 goals, 4 assists)

Previous Grade: B

Current Grade: B+

He’s been the biggest beneficiary of Erik Cernak’s call-up to the Lightning and, as of right now, is probably the third best defenseman on the team following Cameron Gaunce and Dominik Masin. Honestly, the gap between him and Masin isn’t that large.

Foote appears to be getting a little more comfortable at the AHL level and opening up his play a bit more each time out on the ice. Early in the season he seemed a bit tentative and always made the cautious play instead of the aggressive one. Lately, he’s been taking more chances with the puck. The offense isn’t quite there yet (two points in his last ten games), but his overall play has improved.

One of the impressive aspects of his play is his ability to handle the puck in tight situations. Several times, he’s worked his way out from behind his own net while being hounded by forecheckers. He may never be the fastest skater on the ice, but his ability to control the puck and keep it out of danger has been pretty impressive so far.

Otto Somppi (1 game, 1 goal, 0 assists)

Previous Grade: Incomplete

Current Grade: Incomplete

Somppi is finally healthy and, after a brief tune-up in Orlando, is ready to make an impact at the AHL level. That’s certainly what it seemed like after his one game against Toronto earlier this week, anyway. He should see some playing time in the immediate future as the centers in the Crunch line-up struggle to stay healthy.