Just a few hours after reports emerged that the New Jersey Devils had traded forward Blake Coleman to the Colorado Avalanche, after which he was scratched from tonight’s game, the forward has officially been dealt. However, not to Denver. TSN’s Darren Dreger was the first to report that Coleman has been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He adds that the return for New Jersey is a 2020 first-round pick and forward prospect Nolan Foote. The first-rounder will be the Vancouver Canucks’ pick acquired in the J.T. Miller trade, rather than the Bolts’ own selection. Both teams have confirmed the deal.
At first glance, it is clear that the Lightning paid a hefty price in this exchange. Not only did Tampa give up a first-round pick, and the likely higher pick of the two they owned, but Foote was also their first-round selection just last year and the top forward in the pipeline. The big winger, who is the son of former NHLer Adam Foote and brother of Bolts prospect Cal Foote, already has pro size and is continually developing a next-level skill set and hockey IQ. Foote, the captain of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, has scored at more than a point-per-game pace this season and also added five points in seven games at the World Junior Championship. Foote looks ready to help an NHL team sooner rather than later and the Devils will now be the club to reap that reward.
However, the metrics of production versus pay may help to explain why Coleman commanded such a sizeable cost and why he may be a crucial addition for the cap-strapped Lightning. Coleman is in the second year of a three-year, $5.4MM deal signed with the Devils. That means he is making just $1.8MM against the cap this year and next. At that value, the 28-year-old has recorded 21 goals and 31 points through 57 games this season, his second 20-goal season in a row. Not only that, but Coleman is also an intelligent two-way player who brings physicality and poise with his defensive game. Coleman has been one of New Jersey’s best players this season and his addition to a deep Lightning lineup makes for an embarrassment of riches in Tampa. After a shocking first-round sweep last season, the 2019 President’s Trophy winners are loading up in hopes of ensuring that such a collapse does not occur again.
TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, who had reported earlier today that a Coleman deal to Colorado was done, maintains that the Avalanche as well as the Boston Bruins were in the running for the versatile forward until the end. It’s fair to assume that the cost of beating the Bolts’ offer likely proved to be too much for either squad. It will be interesting to see if either team circles back to New Jersey to discuss another term forward in Kyle Palmieri, or if that asking price – probably even higher – will be too much as well. The Bruins especially are feeling the pressure of this addition by Tampa Bay, the biggest threat to unseat them at the top of the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division as well as a very likely playoff opponent.
While Foote sticks out as the most impressive piece heading to the Devils, it is worth noting that the team now has three first-round picks in June: their own, the Arizona Coyotes’ pick from the Taylor Hall trade, and now Vancouver’s pick via Tampa. They also added a second-round pick earlier in the day from the New York Islanders in exchange for veteran defenseman Andy Greene. With Palmieri possibly on the move and a Sami Vatanen even more likely to be dealt (Travis Zajac and Wayne Simmonds are also names on the rumor mill), the Devils are not done making moves and could at least one more first-round pick before the trade deadline passes next week.