In news that came down during the Devils 4-3 shootout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier tonight, fan favorite forward Blake Coleman has been dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was the second of two deals made by Devils’ interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald today, a little over a week before the NHL Trade Deadline. Defenseman Andy Greene was sent to the New York Islanders earlier in the day.
Coleman, who had 21 goals and 31 points this season, was traded in exchange for left winger Nolan Foote and Vancouver’s first round pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. The pick is conditional. Should Vancouver miss the playoffs this year, the pick becomes the Canucks’ first round pick in 2021.
The Devils could now conceivably have eight picks in the 2020 Draft, including a potential for three first round picks (their own, Arizona’s and the Canucks’ – via Tampa Bay).
Foote, the son of former NHL defenseman Adam, is currently 19 and playing for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. According to the Devils’ press release, Foote has 15 goals and 18 assists (33 points) in 26 games for the Rockets this season. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship back in December, as well. The release mentions that he has played with Ty Smith on the WHL All-Star team at the Jr. Super Series the last two years. Foote stands 6-feet, four-inches tall and weight 200 pounds as of now.
The release says that he was born in Denver while his father was a member of the Avalanche and was selected 27th overall in the first round by the Lightning in 2019.
Fitzgerald summed up the feeling of most fans when he said: “This transaction allows us to acquire two key pieces in continuing to build this team around our foundational cornerstones.” Those “foundational cornerstones” include Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes and Mackenzie Blackwood according to Fitzgerald himself in a pregame press conference regarding the Greene trade on MSG Network.
He continued: “Foote is a big, physical winger, with an excellent shot and great offensive instincts, especially on the power play. He will complement our young forward group for a long time.”
But in order to get, you have to give. The Devils will miss a player like Coleman, who was a great penalty killer and always dangerous for a shorthanded goal. He really became an all-situations player this year, as he was starting to get more time on the power play.
He was also, of course, a fan favorite. There was a contingent of fans who were interested in seeing Coleman even being named the Devils’ next captain.
But he was going to be a free agent after next season and right now, he was a peak value to a win-now team like the Lightning. The Devils got a really great package back for him, possibly even better than what they got for Taylor Hall. The pick gives them more ammo at the Draft and Foote is, by all accounts, a really good prospect who could be a key part of the Devils moving forward.
So, while it is sad to see Blake Coleman go (he posted a note to Devils fans and management on his social media thanking them for how he was treated in his time in New Jersey), the return we got should make Devils fans very excited for the future.