The Seattle Kraken have a chance to win their first game in franchise history on the road against the Nashville Predators on Thursday. With Marcus Johansson being placed on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury, a roster spot has opened up for recent waiver claim Alex Barré-Boulet, formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning, to make his Kraken debut just one game into the season. The 24-year-old forward has spent the majority of his last three seasons in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Syracuse Crunch, tallying an impressive 136 points (69 goals, 67 assists) in 144 games. He also played in 15 games with the Lightning last season, scoring three goals.
Barré-Boulet Has Potential to Be Part of Kraken History
Barré-Boulet missed the cut to make the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Lightning’s opening night roster and was placed on waivers Sunday for the purpose of being sent to the AHL. On Monday, the Kraken claimed him as their own, giving him the opportunity to earn his role as a member of the NHL’s newest franchise. It wasn’t clear how long it would take for him to make it into Seattle’s lineup, but he has an opportunity due to Johansson’s injury.
“Hopefully things have slowed down a little bit for him from what it might have been the other day,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “He’ll go into [Johansson]’s spot, and our lineup could be fluid as we go through the game, but we’re excited to have him and I know he’s looking forward to the opportunity tonight” (from ‘Kraken pregame notes: Winger Alex Barre-Boulet will make debut for Seattle,’ The Seattle Times, 10/14/2021).
The Kraken are still looking for their first win in franchise history after falling to the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3 in a thrilling season-opener on Tuesday night. Barré-Boulet can help make history in his first game wearing a Kraken uniform as the team looks to spoil the Predators’ home-opener and earn their first-ever victory. It will be his first time playing against Nashville.
Barré-Boulet Looks to Find His Place in the NHL After Incredible Junior Career
Barré-Boulet played five seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. In 263 games, he managed to score 337 points (140 goals, 197 assists). In 2017-18, his final season in the QMJHL, he tallied 116 points (53 goals, 63 assists) in 65 games with the Armada, earning himself Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year honours.
As an undrafted free agent, he signed with the Lightning on March 1, 2018, and was given a shot with the Crunch in the AHL. He put up 68 points (34 goals, 34 assists) in 74 games in his rookie professional season, but would need to play another full season in the minors before finally getting his shot at the top level. On Feb 22, 2021, he made his NHL debut with the Lightning in a 4-2 road win over the Carolina Hurricanes. He went on the play 14 more games with the team and scored his first NHL goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 25, 2021.
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After playing the last few years for a juggernaut Lightning organization, it is understandable why Barré-Boulet hasn’t been given a fair shot in the NHL just yet. His AHL and QMJHL numbers suggest he has tons of untapped potential, and with a fresh start in Seattle, he may be poised for a breakout year.
In what may soon be remembered as a major milestone in his career, Barré-Boulet will make his Kraken debut when the puck drops in Nashville at 5 p.m. PT on Thursday. He is expected to suit up on the left wing, alongside center Alexander Wennberg and right-wing Joonas Donskoi, but as Hakstol said, the Kraken’s lines could be fluid.
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.