Update 2:15 pm - The Seattle Kraken have claimed Alex Barré-Boulet. The former AHL goal leader will be heading out west to join Yanni Gourde on the newest team in the NHL. It is a good landing spot for the player and the team.
It appears the Tampa Bay Lightning have made their decision on which players would fill out the roster as they head into the 2021-22 NHL season. For the start of it, Alex Barré-Boulet is not one of those players. On Sunday the club put the talented forward on waivers (along with Fredrik Claesson and Andrej Sustr) with the hopes of being able to assign him to the Syracuse Crunch. The wait till the 2:00 p.m. announcement of who cleared is on.
There is a greater than zero chance that ABB could be claimed by another team. At 24-years-old, the former AHL scoring champion can still be considered a prospect. For a team in a rebuild mode (see Buffalo, Ottawa, Detroit, Arizona) he could be an attractive option at a relatively low cost - just his salary of $758,333. He has shown that he can be productive in the NHL if paired with the right set of players, so a team with an opening on their top-six might be interested in picking him up and running him out there 16-18 minutes a game.
One thing that might make opposing general managers a little leery is that it’s not just a one-year commitment to Barré-Boulet. In the offseason the Lightning re-signed him to a three-year contract that carries through the 2023-24 season. It was a somewhat lengthy deal for a player with only 15 games of NHL experience under his belt. There is a good chance that part of the reason in giving him a multi-year deal is to dissuade other teams from claiming him should this very situation arise.
Granted, if ABB doesn’t work out for a team that claims him they haven’t invested too much in him. They could always expose him to waivers and send him to the minors if he clears. Again, it’s only money and some teams that missed their chance to sign him when he was an undrafted free agent may be interested in taking a shot at him.
It would be unfortunate for the Lightning to lose one of their top prospects and not receive anything in return, but it’s a byproduct of having a relatively young top-six. With the exception of Ondrej Palat leaving next season as a free agent, there isn’t likely to be much of an opening on the top two lines anytime soon. If Barré-Boulet has shown anything over his time within the organization, it is that his skillset is best used at the top of the order, not in a defensive bottom-six role.
By seemingly choosing Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh to fill out their roster, the Lightning are showing that the needs they have now are for defensively responsible forwards who can move up and down the line-up, but fit nicely in a third or fourth line role. Barré-Boulet has improved his defensive game since his rookie AHL season of 2018-19. He just isn’t at the point where he can play that defensive role regularly in the NHL.
Should he actually clear waivers, he’ll end up back in the AHL where he has shown scoring isn’t an issue. It would be interesting to see how he accepted the assignment, if he goes down and works on what he needs to or if sulks and puts in a lackluster effort due to a belief that he is better than the league. With the amount of young players heading to Syracuse this fall, it could be a bad example to set if he chooses the second route.
It may be best for both parties if he is claimed by another team. He gets a chance in an organization that isn’t so deep up front and the Lightning clear out a spot in the organization for another prospect.
Lightning / NHL News
Rookie Energy Helps with Reboot [Tampa Bay Times]
With ABB on waivers it means Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh, two players who seem attached to the hip, will likely make the team. After a bit of a lackluster start in camp, they finished strong and earned their spot. The pair will likely rotate in and out of the line-up as along with some of the veterans, a system that Coach Cooper has employed in the past.
What we learned from the preseason [The Athletic - subscription required]
Joe Smith touches on an array of topics from the decision to put ABB on waivers, Cal Foote’s injury, and Andrei Vasilevskiy’s workload. He also mentions that the lines aren’t set in stone just yet.
Panthers acquire defenseman from Canucks [Litter Box Cats]
On Sunday the Vancouver Canucks traded defenseman Olli Juolevi to the Florida Panthers for Juho Lammikko and Noah Juulsen. Those are hockey players. That’s all I know about all three of them.
43 players on waivers [Elliotte Friedman Twitter Thread]
One of the reasons the Lightning waited until Sunday to put their final three players on waivers is the fact that most teams do the same. Rosters have to be set by 5:00 p.m. on Monday so Sunday is the last day you can send folks through the waivers process. Old friends Christopher Gibson, Connor Ingram, and Zach Fucale all popped up on the list.
Cole Sillinger makes NHL roster
Speaking of old friends, Mike Sillinger’s kid made the Columbus Blue Jackets roster. The offspring of the former Lightning forward was a bit of a surprise in the Blue Jackets’ training camp and the 18-year-old who was drafted 12th overall this summer made it through the final cuts. Fellow youngster Yegor Chinakhov, who was the rookie of the year in the KHL last season, also made the team. Columbus could be a fun team to watch this year.