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After brief departure, Alex Barre-Boulet back in the mix, ready to contribute

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by Erik Erlendsson |  @Erik_Erlendsson |  Like us on Facebook
October 21, 2021


TAMPA – Guess who’s back, who’s back again.

Alex Barre-Boulet is back, back among friends.

It’s been quite the week-plus for the former American Hockey League Rookie of the Year, who landed with the expansion Seattle Kraken after being placed on waivers after not making the Tampa Bay Lightning roster to start the season. Now, after being placed on waivers by Seattle earlier in the week, Barre-Boulet returned to Tampa Bay and was on the ice for Saturday’s morning skate.

Though Barre-Boulet won’t face the Colorado Avalanche, the timing for his return could not be better for him and the Lightning.

{mprestriction ids=”1,2″}Barre-Boulet is a scorer. He put up massive offensive numbers his final year in junior with Blainville-Boisbriand, with 53 goals and 116 points in 63 games. His game translated directly to the AHL when he was tied for the league lead as a rookie with 34 goals.

Now he’s looking to get his game up to NHL standards after making his debut with Tampa Bay last season.

“He’s got a really high skill set,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “And it’s no secret that he just keeps continuing to work on skating and his explosiveness. But he may not be the fastest kid but he can play the game pretty fast, and he’s quick. And he’s got a skill set that might help us here as we go forward.”

At the time Barre-Boulet was waived, the team opted to keep Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk on the roster because they were more suited to play lower line roles. There was no room in the team’s top six, even for a player with the skill set to play in that role, so the decision was made (as much for salary cap purposes at the time) to place Barre-Boulet on waivers, understanding there was a good chance he would be lost to another team.

And, as expected, Barre-Boulet did not make it through the waiver wire and was picked up by the expansion Seattle Kraken on Oct. 11, one day before the season started for both Tampa Bay and Seattle. He didn’t join the Kraken in time to be in the lineup for the first game in franchise history. But he did get in the lineup for the first Seattle victory two nights later, registering an assist on Alex Wennberg’s second period goal.

“It was good, it was fun, being part of that first win was something cool,” Barre-Boulet said. “I don’t think they had the same same goals as here. Here you want to win the Stanley Cup every year. Over there it’s a new franchise, they don’t know really what to expect.”

What the Lightning might expect out of Barre-Boulet is to start showing the improvements that he’s made and put them into action with a spot in the top six forward group now open for the time being after Nikita Kucherov suffered an injury on Oct. 16 in Washington that will keep him sidelines for an indefinite period of time with what is believed to be a groin injury.

The timing couldn’t be better for Barre-Boulet to be back with the team.

As the Kraken started to get players back in the lineup from injury and COVID protocols, Barre-Boulet was squeezed out of the roster and was placed back on waivers on Thursday. With a spot open possibly on the top line and the power play, getting him back felt like fate.

“We didn’t want to lose him in the first place,” Cooper said. “I Understand why teams grab guys off waivers, everybody’s in a different situation, but it’s good to get him back especially at a time when having a little bit more skill in our a lineup can help.”

Barre-Boulet made his NHL debut last season on Feb. 22 in Carolina and only made one more appearance in the lineup through the end of March. But when Steven Stamkos was injured for the final month of the season, Barre-Boulet played out the final month-plus of the regular season on the top line with Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat. On April 25 against Columbus, Barre-Boulet scored his first career goal and added his second one game later, finishing with three goals in 15 games.

Now that he’s back in the fold, he has an opportunity seize a spot over the next while on a team that lost a good portion of it’s depth in the offseason and doesn’t have anybody in their development system that possesses the skill set of Barre-Boulet at the moment. 

Barre-Boulet is happy to be back and no matter what he’s asked to do, he’s ready to contribute.

“As soon as I saw Kuch’s injury I was like, oh, there was my shot to be in Tampa,” he said. “But I’m going to work hard even if I’m not playing or if I’m in, it’s not going to change my work ethic. They need me on the fourth line I’ll be ready and if they need me in the top six, I’ll be ready, too.”

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