On February 16th, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired forward Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for 2019 first-round pick Nolan Foote and the 2020 first-round pick the Bolts had acquired from the Vancouver Canucks for J.T. Miller. For reference later in the article, the Canucks protected the pick so that if they miss the playoffs (or lose in the Play-In) the pick transfers to 2021.
Although I was very high on Coleman as a middle-six winger at the time the Lightning acquired him, I thought this price was astronomical. Essentially two first round picks! Surely it shouldn’t have cost this much to acquire someone who’s hovered around 20 goals and never cracked 40 points in a season.
“While the offense is interesting, starting there buries the lead because first and foremost, Blake Coleman is a defensive stud. I’ve written many times about skater defense around these parts, particularly forward defense. Part of learning to appreciate what makes Anthony Cirelli exceptional has been getting more familiar with the best ways to evaluate skater defense. We also wrote over the summer about how players who contribute to winning without scoring a lot of points tend to be undervalued.” - loserpoints, Raw Charge
But despite the value shown by loserpoints and GeoFitz4, an unfortunate small sample weakened the flame of the new acquisition in fans eyes. Coleman was only able to accrue one assist in nine games before the NHL shut down the regular season, and hope that he would turn it on for the playoffs had to wait at least four months. Not that the pandemic is anyone’s fault (though there are some people I’m willing to blame), but with a Play-In loser set to draft the first overall pick following the NHL Draft Lottery, not being part of the action stings for the moment.
Looking back at the trade, losing Little Foote was a heavy blow I know a lot of us felt. He’s a great talent and could’ve been an amazing two-way weapon to augment the Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev, Andrei Vasilevskiy group. But this is still Steven Stamkos’ team and gunning for a Cup when both young and old are still at their peak is the best way to go, similar to the Cup team in 2004 like I learned about in our Lightning Bracket series.
It just stings inside. I remember at the time wishing it wasn’t a prospect of the calibre of Foote that was traded, or the first could’ve been negotiated to a second, alas. I guess I should be glad that there’s no mathematical possibility that the first overall pick isn’t available for the Lightning to take because of Vancouver protecting their pick, though it was a point of research once the chaos of Friday night happened. If the Vancouver picks does win the lottery, their 2021 first automatically goes to New Jersey.
I hope there’s a Cup in our future and Coleman plays a part in it. I don’t pay mention to those who call it the “Corona Cup” or whatever. It’s a Stanley Cup trophy after four rounds of best-of-seven hockey against the best teams in the world. Injuries and illness are a part of every playoff, it’s just that this year there’s hardly anyone heading into the playoffs injured but there’s a much higher chance for illness.
After the flurry of news on Friday night, there hasn’t been much in terms of hockey news over the weekend. Igor covered pretty much everything you need to know in his weekend Lightning Round.
Elliotte Friedman has some fallout from the Draft Lottery in his 31 Thoughts piece.
Hear the voices from the Hockey Diversity Alliance as they discuss how it feels to be a minority in a predominantly white sport.
And Marian Gaborik was out celebrating with fellow Marian, Hossa following his HHOF induction.