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Why the Canucks should consider claiming Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Barré-Boulet off waivers

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Photo credit:© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Cole
1 month ago
In a surprising move, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed forward Alex Barré-Boulet on waivers this morning, as reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. 
Barré-Boulet wouldn’t hurt the Canucks’ salary cap thanks to his near-league minimum contract that expires at the end of this season, a deal that carries a cap hit of just $758,333.
With only 12 goals and 18 points in his young 68-game NHL career, the 26-year-old is still finding his way in the NHL. He has shown flashes this season, registering six goals and nine points in 36 games. 
Here are a handful of his stats at 5-on-5:
In the limited ice time that Barré-Boulet has played this year—roughly 10:07 per game—his individual contributions are impressive, especially at 5-on-5. Despite his frame, he’s a forward in the top 5 or 10 of multiple statistical categories you’d want a league-minimum forward to lead in while playing in your lineup at 5-on-5.
  • Individual expected goals created per 60 (iXG/60): 6th
  • Individual unblocked shots attempted per 60 (iFF/60): 9th
  • Individual scoring chances created per 60 (iSCF/60): 7th
  • Individual high-danger scoring chances created per-60 (iHDCF/60): 5th
  • Takeaways/60: 6th
  • Penalties drawn/60: 12th
  • Giveaways/60: 11th
Where Barré-Boulet falls short is his lack of hits and penalty killing while being an extremely low rate-shooter with a low volume of rush attempts and rebounds created at 5-on-5. HockeyViz.com shows that most of his attempts on goal at 5-on-5 have come from the dirty areas around the net—
You can see in this clip how Barré-Boulet uses his small, slick frame to sneak past defenders to crash the net and how he’s rewarded with a goal.
Barré-Boulet has shown he can play up and down the Lightning’s lineup. He has spent most of his time in a bottom-six role but has also played on a top-line featuring Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. 
Playing with two premiere players will bump your offensive numbers, but he wasn’t dragging them down, either.
Though brief, the Lightning had a slightly better control of expected goals (xGF%), scoring chances (SCF%) and high-danger scoring chances (HDCF%) with Point and Kucherov playing with Barré-Boulet on their line than they did with that duo playing with Steven Stamkos, their most frequent linemate at even-strength this season. 
While nothing is guaranteed, it’s proof of concept that, in a pinch, Barré-Boulet could chip in on top-six spot duty, like Sam Lafferty or Phil Di Giuseppe did earlier this year in the Canucks’ top-six.
The Canucks have shown interest in picking up a potential cost-efficient depth already, with Phil Kessel continuing to practice with the Abbostford Canucks.
What is most attractive about an addition like Barré-Boulet is the acquisition cost. It costs the Canucks nothing but a little bit of their salary cap, even if only temporary, to add a potential energy boost to an anemic power play and a forward group that is only now being tested by injuries.
Let’s be honest: Vancouver’s forward core has gotten fairly lucky with the injury bug this season, only now just missing games from Dakota Joshua and his upper body injury. The playoffs are right around the corner, and the added physicality of games means having players like Kessel and Barré-Boulet in the reserves could be the difference between an abrupt playoff run and a lengthy one.
With the current waiver rules, it’s a longshot to expect the Canucks to actually land Barré-Boulet, as they have the lowest claim priority due to their place as top seed in the NHL standings.
Darn. Champagne problems!
There’s a chance he goes unclaimed. This isn’t the first time that Barré-Boulet has been thrown on waivers by the Lightning, so either the league is wise to what he brings to the table and passes through unclaimed, or Vancouver takes a swing and wins the coveted Barré-Boulet sweepstakes. 
So what do you think Canucks fans? Would you put in a claim for Alexander Barré-Boulet if you were the Canucks?

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