Lightning May Need Syracuse All-Stars For Second-Half Depth

Despite the rankings that put the Tampa Bay Lightning’s prospect pool near the bottom of the NHL, the team saw three prospects that play for the Syracuse Crunch selected for the AHL All-Star contest. The significance of this is that the Crunch were one of only three teams with three players selected for this contest, which will take place on Feb. 6 in Laval, Quebec.

One of the keys to this is that the three players — Darren Raddysh, Gabriel Dumont, and Alex Barre-Boulet — have been playing well enough to provide the Lightning added depth if the need arises in the second half of the season. The Lightning have been identified as a team that may want to add some depth at the trade deadline, but the lack of prospect depth and the lack of room with the salary cap may make a trade very difficult. Whether a trade happens or not, these three players could end up being essential depth pieces for the team in the second half of the season.

Alex Barre-Boulet

The 25-year-old recently broke the Syracuse franchise record for most points by a Crunch player with his 242nd point. Currently, he has 44 points on 10 goals and 34 assists in 35 games. Barre-Boulet was recalled in November 2022 by the Lightning and appeared in one game, logging ten minutes of ice time against the St. Louis Blues before getting reassigned to Syracuse. The native of Quebec has played in 32 NHL games with the Lightning and Seattle Kraken, recording six goals and nine points.

Alex Barre-Boulet Syracuse Crunch
Alex Barre-Boulet, Syracuse Crunch (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While a bit small at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, he makes up for his lack of size with his skating quickness and tenacity. His recent success at Syracuse could indicate that he is ready to be a regular contributor in the NHL. The Lightning originally signed Barre-Boulet as a free agent on March 1, 2018. He was claimed off waivers by Seattle on Oct. 11, 2021, and then re-claimed by the Lightning 11 days later on Oct. 22.

Gabriel Dumont

The Syracuse captain has been a solid leader on and off the ice for the Crunch, supporting the six rookies on their roster and contributing 10 goals this season. This effort has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the AHL, as Dumont and Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Brian Lashoff have been selected as the playing captains for the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic. In addition to his 13 years in pro hockey, he has played 90 games in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild, and the Lightning.

The 2009 draft pick of the Canadiens has played in 644 career games in the AHL, recording 172 goals and 222 assists for 394 points, including career highs of 30 goals, 32 assists, and 62 points in 2021-22 with the Crunch. A player with such experience would not get rattled or intimidated by being on a team with such a strong veteran presence as the Lightning. Playing with great grit and determination would make him a nice fit in the bottom six with the likes of Corey Perry, Anthony Cirelli, and Nick Paul.

Darren Raddysh

There have been many conversations about Raddysh as the trade deadline nears, especially due to his play in Syracuse this season. In addition to being a trade target, he has also been mentioned as a replacement if one of the current Lightning defenders are moved at the deadline. The 26-year-old has put up outstanding numbers with the Crunch in 2022-23, scoring ten goals with 32 assists. Those 42 points have already exceeded any point total that he has in any of his six previous AHL seasons.

Otters’ defenceman Darren Raddysh (24) leads goal celebration during the semi-final game at the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup between the Erie Otters and Saint John Sea Dogs at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, ON on Friday May 26, 2017. Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images

Raddysh is also a player who is willing to sacrifice his body for the team. In his NHL debut on Dec. 30, 2021, he recorded three blocked shots and a hit in 14:57 time on ice. In all, the Toronto native skated in four games for the Lightning during the 2021-22 regular season, notching two shots and a plus-one rating. With Cal Foote being frequently mentioned as a possible trade target, Raddysh looks ready to step in and provide the team with a reliable blueliner.

Related: 3 Lightning Who Need to Step Up in the Second Half

The “TampaCuse” connection has helped send plenty of players to the Lightning, many of whom have been instrumental in helping the team reach four Stanley Cup Finals and winning two of them. This connection will again be called upon as the Lightning looks to work towards getting to another Stanley Cup Final, with the strong possibility that a player who is now in Syracuse may end up on the Lightning roster in the second half of the season.

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