The New Jersey Devils have traded forward Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a package that includes prospect Nolan Foote and a first-round pick.
Coleman is having a career year on the rebuilding Devils this season. The 28-year-old has scored 21 goals and 31 points through 57 games this season — just one tally away from his career-high set last season.
He is the quintessential player that can do it all no matter where he is slotted in. He’s able to drive possession and is one of the best penalty-killing forwards in the league. Coleman truly is an analytical darling that should have Tampa Bay fans drooling.
The new Lightning player has one year remaining on his three-year, $5.4-million contract after this season and Tampa Bay is going to enjoy the benefits of that $1.8-million cap hit for their near future.
With multiple upcoming financial decisions for GM Julien Brisebois to make this summer, Coleman being able to contribute throughout the lineup seems to be worth the prospect and pick they handed over to the Devils.
Nolan Foote — the Lightning’s first-round selection (27th overall) from last summer’s draft — appears to be the type of player that fans dream of. The prototypical power forward with a wicked shot was able to play a part in Canada’s gold medal squad at the 2020 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic.
Along with the 19-year-old Foote, the Devils received the Vancouver Canucks’ conditional first-round pick that the Lightning originally received for forward J.T. Miller last summer. If Vancouver makes the playoffs this season, the pick will be for the 2020 draft and if they miss, it will be pushed to 2021.
On the surface, this is a high price to pay for a player that will simply provide depth for their elite forwards, but the Lightning are gearing up for a long run after last year’s first-round sweep.
Coleman has been with the Devils since he was selected in the third round back in 2011. Based on his tweet shortly after the deal was made officially, the move to Tampa Bay is an emotional one.
To add to the regular sensitivity that comes when traded, Coleman and his wife — Jordan — are expecting their first child within the next month. Luckily for them, the Lightning have a long home stand ahead of them if their baby girl comes.
As for what’s next for this surging Tampa squad, Brisebois said on Sunday evening that they are always looking to improve, but "wouldn't necessarily hold my breath" for the team to make another significant addition before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, according to Bryan Burns of tampabaylightning.com.
The Lightning have won their last ten consecutive games prior to acquiring Coleman and it’s safe to say that they will be a tougher team to face as the postseason draws near.
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