The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the RawCharge community. Ten writers and 106 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked, plus Honorable Mentions.
Welcome first timer Alex Barré-Boulet to the Top 25 Under 25 list this season. There is a slight gap between the readership and the writers, but that’s to be expected when the reigning CHL Player of the Year signs on after his junior career ends. I voted Barré-Boulet as my 19th best player under 25 for the organization—the highest of any the players signed this season or drafted. Note, Barré-Boulet was passed over every year of his draft eligibility. When the NHL drafted rankings were released in 2015 (his first year of eligibility), Barré-Boulet was marked at the 141st ranked skater in North America by NHL central scouting. He was never selected in the 2015, 2016, or the 2017 drafts.
I was able to see Barré-Boulet firsthand at development camp last month and the skill was apparent immediately. Here’s an excerpt from my development camp piece on Barré-Boulet.
The CHL player of the year was highly impressive at camp. He was always near the puck regardless of whether or not he was defending or attacking. He had a variety of plays that either resulted in a goal or, at a minimum, a dangerous opportunity. He saw the ice well, though it was 3-on-3 so take that for what it is, and used his speed and agility to work his way around defenders. He made his presence known, and early signs on Barré-Boulet show that he could be another diamond in the rough for the Lightning organization.
My colleague, GeoFitz, dove a little deeper into Barré-Boulet’s production in an earlier piece shortly after Barré-Boulet’s signing.
Over four seasons in the QMJHL, Barré-Boulet has scored 136 goals and 325 points in 255 games played. In his rookie season, he scored 23 goals and 51 points in 68 games played for the Drummondville Voltigeurs, but went undrafted. He followed it up with an 89 point and 81 point campaign, but still did not draw any interest from NHL teams in the draft or as a free agent. This year as an overager, Barre-Boulet has scored 49 goals and 104 points in 57 games.
When you see an overager have a big season in one of the CHL leagues, it’s usually thought that it’s because he is bigger, faster, and more experienced than most of the other players he’s playing with. This was certainly the case of former Lightning draft pick Boko Imama who had a big jump in goals in his overage season (and has just 1 point in the AHL this season).
Production wise, Barré-Boulet was similar to top picks Evgeny Svechnikov, Timo Meier, and Anthony Beauvillier. Svechnikov, Meier, and Barré-Boulet all broke into the QMJHL during the 14-15 season (Beauvillier started in the QMJHL in 13-14 and left after the 15-16 season), but Svechnikov and Meier only played two seasons in the QMJHL before making the jump to professional. Barré-Boulet is the only one of the four to be 1) undrafted and 2) in the QMJHL for four years. Here is their production for those years:
2014-2015 QMJHL Production
2015-2016 QMJHL Production
Over both seasons, Barré-Boulet scored 58 goals, 82 assists, and 140 total points in 133 games. Svechnikov scored 64 goals, 93 assists, and 157 points in 105 games. Meier scored 78 goals, 99 assists, and 177 points in 132 games. Beauvillier scored 82 goals, 91 assists, and 173 points in 114 games. Svechnikov, Meier, and Beauvillier were all drafted in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft. Barré-Boulet was not. This isn’t to say Barré-Boulet was a first rounder, in my opinion he was more likely a late second or early to mid third round talent. Regardless, he was still a real offensive threat for those two years and should’ve been drafted. Why wasn’t he? Barré-Boulet’s size was a consistent worry by scouts (and apparently teams) as was his skating ability and two-way play. Over his last two seasons in the QMJHL, Barré-Boulet focused on both of these aspects and it ultimately paid off when the Tampa Bay Lightning signed him to an entry level contract this past season.
To satiate any curiosity, here are Barré-Boulet’s numbers for his last two years in the QMJHL combined. 82 goals, 115 assists, and 197 points in 130 games. He knows how to score.
Oddly, there isn’t much on YouTube pertaining to Barré-Boulet highlights. I found three videos that were largely game highlights and didn’t showcase anything special on the goals in which he was involved. This short clip shows Barré-Boulet single handedly create a scoring chance that his team converted on.
.@TBLightning prospect Alex Barre-Boulet with some magic to set up the only goal in the @ArmadaBLB 1-0 Game 2 victory over @IslandersHKY in the Semi Final of the @QMJHL playoffs. pic.twitter.com/6RGzgDKqbX— Kris Abbott (@KrisAbbott21) April 23, 2018
Additionally, here is a tweet from the QMJHL (it’s in French) when Barré-Boulet scored his 50th goal of the season.
And finally, here is an article by Josh Beneteau shortly after Barré-Boulet won the CHL Player of the Year Award. It contains video from Sportsnet where CHL reporter Sam Cosentino talks to Jeff Marek about Barré-Boulet signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I’m excited to see what Barré-Boulet grows into over the next several years in Syracuse. He could be another one of Steve Yzerman’s diamonds in the rough (think Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, etc.).
Here is Barré-Boulet talking with some of the local media after development camp. Enjoy!