The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently taking the league by storm and have a promising prospect that could make an impact soon enough.
The Lightning are sitting pretty at 37-10-2 (76 points). They are ahead of the second place Calgary Flames by 5 points, and ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs (2nd in the Atlantic) by 14 points.
They have all the pieces at forward, with fantastic secondary options as well as a star-studded top 6. They have one of, if not, the best defensive cores in the league, thanks in part to the emergence of Erik Cernak and the consistent play of Ryan McDonagh, Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman. They also have a Vezina-caliber goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy. Usually with teams like Tampa, who are far and away the top candidates for the Stanley Cup, they sell a lot of their future to go “all in”. But that is not necessarily the case, as the Lightning have some really intriguing prospects. One of the most under-appreciated of those prospects? He goes by the name of Alex Barré-Boulet.
Before The Bolts
Alex Barré-Boulet began his career in the juniors with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) at the age of 16 years old, posting a respectable 51 points, including 23 goals, in 68 games. However, he was shaky defensively and finished with a -17 +/-.
The following season, at the age of 17, he improved those numbers immensely, as he scored 35 goals and 89 points in 65 games, while also finishing with a +2 +/-. In his age 18 season, he finished with 48 points in 37 games, due to injuries.
Along with the injuries, NHL teams were concerned about his size, as he is only 5’9, 167 pounds. With that being said, he wound up going undrafted and returned to QMJHL action. Yet again, he went down with injuries, playing in just 28 games as a 19 year old. He recorded 33 points in that span, but doubts were expanded on, and he wound up undrafted again in his second try at the NHL.
At 20 years old, Barré-Boulet played what Junior-level hockey calls his over-age season, and boy did he shine. He put up 53 goals, 63 assists for 116 points in 65 games played, staying healthy and dominating. He also greatly improved his +/- to +28 that year.
Prior to the season’s end, he agreed to an Entry-Level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning at 3 years for $759k USD. He then played 19 postseason games with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, recording 13 goals and 27 points, falling just shy in the finals to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
His AHL Opportunity
Since, he is 21 years of age, Barré-Boulet was able to join the Syracuse Crunch, the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliates of the Lightning immediately. There wasn’t a lot of hype for Barré-Boulet, and he was completely under the radar of even the most die hard Lightning fans out there.
Yet, he is used to being underestimated, and he has thrived this season. As of now, he has 39 points in 41 games played, leading all AHL rookies in points (according to theahl.com). He has also been fantastic on the power-play for Syracuse, as 12 of his 21 total goals have come on the man advantage. He is starting to prove that he is a special player.
What To Look Forward To
For Barré-Boulet, one of the main concerns continues to be his size and his durability. Those two things may make his development into an NHL regular take a bit longer. But based on what he has shown in the AHL, and the strides he has made since his final QMJHL season is tangible, and promising. All he needs is to add more muscle and stay healthy to be an NHL player as soon as next season, because he has the foundation to be a great addition to the Tampa Bay Lightning squad in the near future.
stats from eliteprospects.com and theahl.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals