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Syracuse Crunch roster preview: The forwards, part two

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We’ve covered the forwards that are potential call ups. Now we cover everyone else.

Syracuse Crunch Daniel Walcott (85) mixes it up with Toronto Marlies players in American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup Playoff action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Toronto won 2-1.
Scott Thomas Photography

Previously, Justin and Alex have covered the defense and the goalies that are mostly likely going to be with Syracuse this season in separate entries. The forward group at present is rather large, with quite a few unknowns, so the two decided to split them up and cover them in a few different groups. Monday’s entry, written by Justin, covered any forwards that are potential Tampa Bay Lightning call up fodder, including the vets and the younger prospects looking to impress. In today’s entry, Alex covers everyone else.

Who’s new:

Alex Barre-Boulet

(with Blainville-Boisbriand) Regular season: 65 GP, 53 G, 63 A, 116 P, 67 PIM, +28. Playoffs: 19 GP, 13 G, 14 A, 27P, 14 PIM, +11

The Lightning scouting staff may have just pulled off finding another diamond in the rough with Barre-Boulet. How he adjusts to his first year of professional hockey will certainly be a good way to judge just how well he’s going to work out.

Barre-Boulet has scored 136 goals and 325 points in 255 games played over four seasons in the QMJHL. He’s a player that hasn’t been afraid to make his presence known at the Lightning’s prospect camp earlier this summer and during the Lightning’s training camp this September.

How quickly he makes his name known around Syracuse will be exciting to watch, indeed.

Boris Katchouk

(with Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) Regular season: 58 GP, 42G/43A, 85P, 30 PIM. Playoffs: 24GP, 19G/18A, 37P, 8 PIM

(with Canada U20) 7 GP, 3G/3A, 6P, 4 PIM

Katchouk had a banner year with the Greyhounds in 2017-18. He netted an outstanding 85 points in 58 games played, and helped the Soo go deep into the playoffs with 37 points in 24 games played. His performance was enough to earn him a place on the OHL’s First All-Star Team, and he was also a top-12 finalist for the Kitchener-Waterloo Athlete of the Year. It will be considered an outstanding rookie season for him if his pace continues at even half that for his first year in the AHL.

As Tanya and Alan explained in Katchouk’s Top 25 Under 25 entry, one of the things Katchouk did that aided his success last season was improve his size and physicality. It’s easy to imagine that those things will help him immensely during his first season of professional hockey.

Taylor Raddysh

(with OHL Erie Otters) Regular season: 30 GP, 15 G, 29 A, 44 PTS, 16 PIM, +10

(with OHL Soo Greyhounds) Regular season: 28 GP, 18 G, 21 A, 39 PTS, 14 PIM, +14

As Tom Hunter explained in Raddysh’s Top 25 Under 25 entry, Raddysh spent his final season in the OHL prepping for his first season of professional hockey. This is great news for those in Syracuse, who are hungry for the continued success of their rather young AHL team. At the very least, it is certainly hoped that the Crunch won’t spend the first month and a half of the season languishing like they did in 2017-18. The more better prepared these players are to make that jump, the less painful October and November will be.

The good news continues with Raddysh. The main thing he brings to the ice - his incredibly quick release - should translate well to the AHL. His high hockey IQ and complete game will probably seem like an early Christmas gift to head coach Ben Groulx and his staff. While his skating strength has been questioned, it is probably certain that Barb Underhill and her staff will get on him quick in order to improve it.

Otto Somppi

(with QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads) Regular season: 59 GP, 28 G, 55 A, 83 PTS. Playoffs: (injured) 2GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1PTS

In his final season before joining the professional ranks, Somppi helped lead his Mooseheads to a third-place finish in the entire QMJHL with 93 points. According to Hardev’s Top 25 Under 25 piece about him, Somppi’s 83-point performance proved that he can keep up and succeed with players of the highest caliber the Q had to offer. Fans in Syracuse are hoping that success translate to the AHL.

Of course, those who were with the Crunch through their tough second round playoff exit last season have already seen Somppi in action. He played in three playoff games with Syracuse, scoring no points but earning the admiration of head coach Groulx:

“I really liked Otto tonight. I saw him play a little bit during the year because he’s playing with my son [Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Anaheim Ducks]. This was his first game pro, I thought he was fine, I liked the he tried to make plays. For me, that’s the key. You go out there, you’re coming from junior and you try to play hockey. You try to make plays. That’s what you want to see from your young guys.”

Brady Brassart

(with Idaho Steelheads) Regular season: 50 GP, 23 G, 31 A, 54 PTS. Playoffs: 11 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS

Brassart, who was signed to an AHL contract this past June, will probably spend his season shuttling between the Crunch and the Orlando Solar Bears. He started his professional career in the Minnesota Wild organization. He moved onto the Vancouver Canucks last year, playing in nine AHL games with the Utica Comets, scoring no points. In 50 ECHL games, he put 54 points (23g, 31a) and was the Idaho Steelheads fourth-leading scorer.

The Familiars

Olivier Archambault

(with Syracuse Crunch) Regular season: 29 GP, 10 G, 8 A, 18 PTS, 31 PIM, +4. Playoffs: 6 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 2 PTS, 4 PIM

Archambault was one of the bigger success stories coming out of last season. Signed to a PTO out of the ECHL in January, Archambault became a regular on the roster and eventually played his way into an AHL contract. That pact, signed towards the end of last season, kept him in the fold for 2018-19.

It didn’t take long at all before Archambault became known for goals like this one:

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as though Archambault will be ready to go at the start of his season. He suffered a shoulder injury during the second round of the AHL playoffs, and although it’s been reported that he’s “progressing nicely,” he probably won’t be ready for the start in October. Hopefully his injury won’t linger, and he’ll be back at 100% soon.

Troy Bourke

(with Adirondack Thunder) Regular season: 22 GP, 10 G, 22 A, 32 PTS, 18 PIM.

(with Syracuse) Regular season: 6 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PT, 2 PIM

Bourke is another player who will probably find himself moving back and forth between the Solar Bears and the Crunch. Signed to an AHL contract for 2018-19, he reprises the role of fill in he played for Syracuse last season. Bourke has 63 points (24g, 39a) in 212 career AHL games with Syracuse, the San Antonio Rampage and Lake Erie Monsters, and was an admirable call up when needed. Injuries necessitated Bourke’s presence in Syracuse during the Calder Cup playoffs, where he played in all seven of Syracuse’s games, scoring no points.

Kevin Lynch

(with Syracuse) Regular season: 57 GP, 14 G, 12 A, 26 PTS, 48 PIM. Playoffs: 7 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 PTS

Lynch is another major success story in Syracuse that is carrying over to this season. Before this past summer, Lynch had spent his career languishing in the minors, splitting time between the ECHL and the AHL. He started to show up on the Crunch’s roster in 2014, and was a continual go-to-guy when injuries and call ups demanded it. In total, he played in 154 AHL games through a myriad of contracts.

Finally, this past June, all his hard work paid off. A few weeks before it could be announced officially, his wife broke the news of Lynch’s two-way NHL contract (and the birth of their newest baby) through a sweet Instagram post.

On July 1st, the Crunch officially announced his signing. Although he probably won’t ever see any NHL time with the Lightning, a two-way contract is an excellent reward for a hard-fighting player that has become a leader in Syracuse.

Jonne Tammela

(with Syracuse) Regular season: 28 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 P, 16 PIM, +5

Tammela is a guy who deserves a break. Crunch fans have to hope he gets one this season.

Going back to the 2016-17 season, Tammela was sidelined by not one, not two, but three knee surgeries, procedures that derailed his junior career. Tammela ended up needing two surgeries on his right knee and one surgery on his left, a pattern of seemingly never-ending procedures and rehabs that sidelined him for a season and a half. He made his return to hockey this past season with Syracuse, playing in 28 games and scoring three goals.

Tammela is projected as a future fourth liner in the NHL, and Raw Charge staff writer Geo has compared him to Cedric Paquette. Tammela is pesky and he’s a harder worker, but he also missed out on a season and a half of development. That’s probably going to hamper his path to the NHL, and he’s going to have to prove himself at the AHL level first before the Lightning will take much of a chance on him.

Regardless of time lost, it seems like Tammela is now making the most of his current healthy state. His post-prospect camp reviews were sparkling, with Matt remarking that “Tammela was the de-facto catalyst for nearly everything Team Johnson did.” Matt also praised Tammela’s vision on the ice, his passing ability, and his puck-control ability. Overall, that’s a great look for a player that once thought he might never play hockey again.

Carter Verhaeghe

(with Syracuse) Regular season: 58 GP, 17 G, 31 A, 48 P, 30 PIM, +18. Playoffs: 7 GP, 1 G, 7 A, 8 P, 0 PIM

Going into the 2017-18 season, Verhaeghe was a bit of unknown. Acquired in the trade that sent Kristers Gudlevskis to the New York Islanders organizations, fans weren’t exactly sure what to expect. Verhaeghe quickly made a name for himself, though. This past season with the Crunch, Verhaeghe’s 48 points put him second on the team in scoring, and if he had played all 75 games he was projected to top out at 62 points.

Verhaeghe’s career before last season was a bit scattered. According to Seldo, staying in one spot for an entire season helped Verhaeghe build on his existing skills. Playing under one coaching staff with one organizational style also helped immensely, something that certainly showed in Verhaeghe’s scoring. Verhaeghe is clearly enjoying himself in Syracuse, and Crunch fans should be able to look forward to another solid season from him.

Dennis Yan

(with Syracuse) Regular season: 43 GP, 13 G, 10 A, 23 P, 20 PIM, +11

Yan is another player who could really use a break. A nagging back injury stymied his first season of professional hockey somewhat, leaving Crunch fans a little unsure of how to feel about him. Thanks to his struggles with his back, Yan missed almost all of December, some of January, half of March, and all of April, including the playoffs. His production was as spotty as one might expect it to be given his rookie status and his injury.

Yan’s season pretty much had a pattern of disruption. In general, he’d seem to find some rhythm, but then an injury or something else, like a call-up that changed his line mates, would disrupt his flow. He’d get his footing back, but then another thing would trip him up. It was certainly frustrating.

Although he wasn’t able to play in the Crunch’s postseason, he was able to perform at the Lightning’s Development Camp this past June. Matt was really impressed with Yan’s offensive skills, remarking that he performed above average when paired with a linemate he had chemistry with - in that case, Tampa Bay prospect Alexei Lipanov - but that his defensive liabilities were also on full display. That kind of a report has seemed on par for the course for the past few seasons with Yan, so it will certainly be interesting to see how he grows.

Reassuringly, Yan got a lot of positive attention during the Lightning’s most recent prospect tourney.

It’s hoped that Yan can achieve a more consistent season in Syracuse in 2018-19, both on the scoresheet and in the area of health.