Lightning’s Alex Barre-Boulet happy to be back after ‘crazy week’

TAMPA — Alex Barre-Boulet was trying to move on from the Lightning when he got the call.

The Lightning placed the 24-year-old forward on waivers Oct. 11, the day before their season opener. Barre-Boulet was picked up immediately by the Kraken, then skated with the team for 11 days before landing back on waivers. On Friday, the Lightning reacquired him.

“It was a crazy week, obviously,” Barre-Boulet said. “I was getting adjusted to Seattle, (and) it was a great experience, but obviously happy to be back.”

Rookies Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk initially beat out Barre-Boulet for final roster spots with Tampa Bay. The team’s salary cap situation also came into play.

When Seattle’s franchise had to place five players in COVID-19 protocol on the eve of their opener, Barre-Boulet played in two games, logging one assist and just over 17 minutes of action. He also contributed to the franchise’s first win in Nashville.

“It was fun,” he said. “Being a part of that first win was something cool, but I don’t think they have the same goals as here. Here, it’s you want to win the Stanley Cup every year and over there it’s a new franchise and they don’t know what to really expect so far, so it’s great being back but I had a great time over there.”

As players returned to the Kraken, the Lightning’s own Nikita Kucherov landed on long-term injured reserve. He cannot return before Nov. 13 and could be out longer. A hole in the team’s first line means Barre-Boulet has a shot to make an impact.

Having experience skating with Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point on the top line is certainly an asset; he skated with them in 12 games last season. He also has a knack for finding the back of the net — ranking among the AHL’s top six scorers in his first two seasons with Syracuse — and his speed is key.

He won’t skate in tonight’s game against the Avalanche — he didn’t get back to Tampa Bay until late Friday night — but he’ll have the chance to play on the upcoming road trip that starts Monday in Buffalo, per coach Jon Cooper.

“(He) probably put a few airline miles on his ticket,” Cooper joked. “We didn’t want to lose him in the first place, understand why teams grab guys off waivers, everybody’s in a different situation, but (it’s) good to have him back, especially in a time when adding a little bit more skill to our lineup can help.”

Barre-Boulet made his NHL debut in late February and scored three goals in 15 games with the Lightning last season, but the team expects more out of him at this point in his career.

“As soon as I saw Kuch was injured, I was like, ‘Aw, this is my shot to be in Tampa,’” Barre-Boulet said. “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. If they need me on the fourth line, I’ll be ready and if they need me on the top line, I’ll be ready, too.”

Contact Mari Faiello at Follow @faiello_mari.

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