Crunch October Recap: Don’t write Barre-Boulet off just yet

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
1 of 3

It has been a rough start for the Syracuse Crunch, but Alex Barre-Boulet has been a bright spot in the early going.

The expectation was for the forward group to be a step down from last season after losing a wealth of experience in the likes of Remi Elie, Charles Hudon and Otto Somppi, but it is hard not to be a little disappointed with the 1-3-3 record the team has gotten off to this season.

Barre-Boulet should not be counted out

You must hand it to Alex Barre-Boulet. Even after not managing to stay on an NHL roster for the past three seasons, he has found yet another gear to elevate his game in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch this season.

Off to a team-best start of 2 goals, 10 assists, and 12 points through the first seven games, Barre-Boulet is currently well ahead of his historic point rate. Rather than being a low sample anomaly, his shooting percentage is well down – currently 7.1% – from his career percentage of 13.0.

Assuming that number edges higher towards his career average over the course of the season, it is very likely we will see Barre-Boulet set career bests in most scoring categories.

Even when he’s not scoring, his shot is always a force to be reckoned with, and an asset in creating opportunities for others on the ice.

However, Barre-Boulet’s offense has not been his biggest obstacle in staying in the NHL.

Last season we mentioned Barre-Boulet was beginning to see an increased role in all game situations – namely the penalty kill – and so far that trend has continued with him seeing at least one or two shifts on any given Crunch penalty kill effort. While penalty killing will likely never be a strong enough asset of his to earn an NHL spot, it should continue to help him build the on-ice defensive mentality that could finally secure him an NHL spot in the bottom-six if a top-six spot remains out of reach.

So far, it looks like that defensive mentality is improving as Barre-Boulet has pressured opponents and forced turnovers multiple times this season. Whether he puts it altogether at some point, or not, it is hard not to be impressed by his continuous upward trajectory now in his fifth AHL season.