NHL 2021 Free Agent Preview: Blake Coleman
Few trades qualify as a win-win-win, but the Tampa Bay Lightning's acquisition of Blake Coleman on February 16, 2020, from the New Jersey Devils, might be one such example.
The rebuilding Devils picked up Nolan Foote, a former first-round pick who ranked fifth in the Lightning's system when we ranked the league's prospect pools, and the 20th overall pick in the 2020 draft. It was a return that surprised many with its extravagance.
The Tampa Bay Lightning received a player who turned out to be instrumental in back-to-back Cup wins, helping to drive a third-line that was better than most opponents’ second-lines. And from the sounds of it, Coleman, a pending unrestricted free agent, earned a substantial raise on his next contract.
In a free agent class where one of the big themes is hard-working complementary wingers (like Zach Hyman and Gabriel Landeskog), Coleman has a recent track record that will make teams on the verge of contention drool. He’s scored at a 20-goal pace in three consecutive seasons in middle-six minutes with barely any power play time. He plays with undeniable speed, and he’s a demon on the forecheck. Did I mention that every general manager in the league just watched him win two Stanley Cups? He’s what every team in the league wants.
Evolving-Hockey projects a four year, $4.6-million contract for Coleman, estimating that the probability of him receiving six or more years is less than 10 percent. But Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman predicted that he would receive a six-year deal in the $5-million range, a testament to the effect that Cup rings can have on a bidding war.
Is Coleman worth all the hubub? Using stats gleaned from TopDownHockey, Evolving-Hockey, Corey Sznajder, and InStat Hockey, I'm going to break down one of the most compelling players of this year's free agent class.
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