The Tampa Bay Lightning have assigned forward Alex Barre-Boulet to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. Barre-Boulet was waived by the Lightning before opening night and he was claimed by the Seattle Kraken. After two games with the Kraken, Barre-Boulet was placed back on waivers with the Lightning being the only team to claim him. The Lightning elected to keep him on the NHL roster at the time due to the injury to Nikita Kucherov that had left the team with only 12 healthy forwards.
In seven games for the Lightning this season, Barre-Boulet has recorded a goal and three assists. In two games with the Kraken, he recorded one assist. Barre-Boulet has bounced around the line-up a bit, but has lost his spot on the fourth line to Boris Katchouk for the last few games.
This once again leaves the Lightning with 12 healthy forwards on the roster, though Gemel Smith, injured during pre-season, may be nearing full health as he skated on his own this morning before a lightly attended optional practice. If Smith is healthy, he makes a better option as a 13th forward to sit in the press box than Barre-Boulet.
Because the Lightning were the only team to claim Barre-Boulet when the Kraken waived him, he counts as having cleared waivers. The Lightning had the option to put him on the roster or send him to the Crunch right away. With putting him on the roster, the waiver exemption clock started ticking. If the Lightning kept him on the roster for 30 days or had him play in 10 games, then he would require waivers again to be sent to the AHL. Barre-Boulet was coming up on that 30 day mark in just another couple days. By sending him down now, if the Lightning need to recall him later in the season, the team could bring him up for a single day and then be able to send him back down without requiring waivers again.
The chances of him being claimed on waivers still seem pretty low at this point, especially with him losing out to Katchouk for that 12th forward spot and not being able to pull ahead of Taylor Raddysh either. While he has the three points, and Raddysh and Katchouk just have a single assist each, Katchouk and Raddysh have shown more growth as the season has gone along.
They’re both shooting the puck more and generally being more dangerous with the puck than Barre-Boulet. Raddysh has been getting penalty kill time, and Katchouk has taken a couple PK shifts here and there, which is something I’d never expect of Barre-Boulet. Barre-Boulet did get some second power play time and picked up one of his assists there while the others don’t get power play time.
And when you go to the puck possession stats, Katchouk and Raddysh just both look much better. Katchouk is at 62.62% xGF and Raddysh at 53.73% while Barre-Boulet sits at 39.16%. Raddysh and Katchouk are over 50% in shot percentage, fenwick percentage, and corsi percentage. All around, the team has possessed the puck more and gotten better quality with Raddysh and especially Katchouk, when they’ve been on the ice compared to Barre-Boulet.
For Barre-Boulet, spending some time in Syracuse can help him to keep growing his game. The Lightning have him under contract for two more years after this season. This isn’t the end of his NHL chance, but it’s in jeopardy. He needs to go down to Syracuse and perform at a high level, not just offensively, but defensively as well. Work on his puck possession game. Work on his faceoff game (he’s 1-7 in the faceoff dot this season with the Lightning) to offer some secondary value to the team. Barre-Boulet has been hyped for his offensive upside, but hasn’t been able to show that fully in the NHL because his defensive and puck possession game hasn’t allowed him to earn the trust of the coaches, and thus more ice time and more skilled linemates.