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Canadiens AHL Affiliate Adds Multiple Important Reinforcements



montreal canadiens target bourre-boulet

Unrestricted free agency opened on Monday, giving the Montreal Canadiens and the rest of the league an opportunity to bolster their ranks at an inflated price.

While it’s true the Habs have plenty of cap space, not to mention opportunities for players who are looking for a fresh start, this is simply not the right time to press fast-forward on the rebuild. There are too many factors in play to consider the Canadiens a playoff-bound time with the addition of a forward or two to the mix.  The most pressing concern is the contract extensions that will be offered to Kaiden Guhle and Juraj Slafkovsky.

And judging by the type of contracts that have been thrown around in the first few hours of free agency, it’s fair to say there’s some wisdom in holding back a little, as the temptation of success is overshadowed by the risk of taking off before you have somewhere to land.

There was some news, as the Habs signed former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alexandre Barré-Boulet. The AHL standout was rumoured to have considered the Canadiens when he originally signed his deal with Tampa Bay in 2018. At the time, general manager Marc Bergevin was highly criticized for not signing him, as some suggested Barré-Boulet was ready to step in and make an impact in the NHL.

The 27-year-old forward ended up playing six seasons in the AHL, for the Lightning’s farm team the Syracuse Crunch. He was given brief opportunities to prove his worth, to the tune of 68 games in four different NHL seasons, but as is the case for many tweeners, he was not given the time to find his rhythm. For what it’s worth, Barré-Boulet has a history of lighting the lamp at every level. His 12 goals and six assists during his sporadic time in the NHL was encouraging, but it’s his AHL production that really stands out.

Barré-Boulet has maintained a point-per-game pace throughout his AHL career, scoring 113 goals and 189 assists in 294 games. He also maintained that pace in the playoffs, with 22 points in 22 games.

There’s a chance Barré-Boulet could earn a job with the Habs at camp, but for now, we can consider him to be a very important reinforcement at the AHL level. Not only is he a veteran, but he’s the type of player that shows up in big games, and he can provide important leadership for younger players, a crucial factor in making the jump to professional hockey.

The Laval Rocket got into the action by signing Vincent Arseneau and former Hab Laurent Dauphin. They also padded the depth chart by signing defencemen Joshua Jacobs, Vincent Sevigny, and Tyler Wotherspoon, not to mention goaltender Hunter Jones.

These aren’t franchise-altering decisions, at least not when compared to the recent addition of top prospect Ivan Demidov to the organization, but they are the type of necessary reinforcements that will come into play once the season begins. If you’re wondering why Vincent Sevigny’s name may sound familiar, he went toe-to-toe with NHL tough guy Matt Rempe last year and gave him a great fight considering the size discrepancy.

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Barre-Boulet is a very skillful player with a high hockey IQ. This is a good chance for him to prove that he belongs in the NHL.