Coleman Traded to Tampa

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.

Blackwood Earns Second Straight Shutout as Devils Down Kings 3-0

The Devils defeated the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Prudential Center to earn a point in their sixth straight game. That six-game point streak is a season high as they now improve to 3-0-3 since the bye week/All-Star break.

The 3-0 win also saw Mackenzie Blackwood extend his personal shutout streak to 135:03 over his last three games. He shut out Philadelphia in his last outing. He made 37 saves tonight in blanking the Kings. The Devils scored their three goals in about a five-minute span in the second period to ice this one.

The Kings came in with the worst record in the Western Conference standing in last place in the Pacific Division. However, these things are not always predictable as the Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the league and the Devils knocked them off on Thursday, shutting them out.

Still, the Devils were without both Nico Hischier – who is still working with the team’s medical staff according to MSG Network’s Erika Wachter and has not resumed skating yet – and Sami Vatanen. Vatanen did skate this morning but remained out of the lineup tonight. As a result, the lineup remained the same as Thursday. Colton White was the team’s healthy scratch.

We mentioned Blackwood’s outstanding performance, making 37 saves in getting the shutout. For LA, Cal Petersen was making his season NHL debut (he did play a handful of games for the Kings last season). He made 31 saves on 34 Devils shots for a .912 save percentage.

This was the Devils’ 500th game at Prudential Center. Fitting that they were playing the LA Kings, since that was the matchup for the first Stanley Cup Final in the building back in 2012.

The first period was not without its action, despite ending scoreless. There was a sequence where both teams rang a puck off of the pipe at each end before Blake Coleman was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway as he tried to bury one five-hole on Petersen.

The second period was where the action took place. It began with the game-winning goal 5:38 into the frame. It came when Coleman (who did not get an assist on this goal) took a shot that rebounded back to the point and Damon Severson. Severson saw Nikita Gusev setting up at the near faceoff circle. He passed, Gusev fired and, although Petersen got a piece of the shot, it went in to give the Devils the 1-0 lead. The goal was Gusev’s tenth of the season.

Almost two minutes later, at 6:12, Carl Grundstrom took a high-sticking call against Connor Carrick that put him in the penalty box for two. While on the power play, at 7:35, Kyle Palmieri had a shot blocked by Petersen. Wayne Simmonds found the loose puck and gathered it. He gave to Coleman near the far faceoff circle. Coleman ripped a shot by Petersen to make it 2-0.

This goal was Coleman’s 21st of the year to lead the team. Curiously, however, it was his first power play goal of the year. This is less surprising when you factor in that Coleman is only now getting serious power play time with the injury to Nico Hischier.

On the power play for the night, the Devils were 1-for-4 with seven shots. They also had a single shorthanded shot as well. Los Angeles was 0-for-3 with five shots. They added three shorthanded shots too.

The third goal of the period (and game) was a crazy one from a scoresheet perspective. Andy Greene took a shot from the point with Jack Hughes and Kyle Palmieri providing the screens in front. The puck pinballed in off of Hughes’ stick and Palmieri’s shin pad. Originally, the goal was credited to Hughes, but that was later changed to Palmieri. That made it 3-0 Devils.

The Devils nearly got into some penalty trouble late in the period. First, at the 12:12 mark of the second, PK Subban was called for interference. While the Devils were killing that off, at 12:37 elapsed in the period, Damon Severson hooked down Anze Kopitar on a breakaway. He was awarded a penalty shot, but Blackwood stopped that one to basically seal the deal.

Blackwood was busy in the third, but equal to the task and the Devils came away with their second shutout wins in as many games.

The Devils were again dominated in the faceoff circle, winning just 42-percent of the game’s draws. Travis Zajac led all centers with a 63-percent personal winning percentage.

The Devils did outhit the Kings, 22-18. They also had more blocked shots at 18 to LA’s six. The Devils had double the turnovers the Kings did at four to two.

Subban led all Devils skaters with 24:28 of ice time – including 3:10 on the PP and 1:58 on the PK. Pavel Zacha led the forwards with 18:05 total including 3:26 on the man advantage and 2:52 killing penalties.

Coleman led in shots on goal by a wide margin with seven (Palmieri and Gusev came closest with four). Hits were led by Zacha with four. Blocked shots by Greene with six and takeaways by Coleman with two.

The three stars of the night saw Blackwood again grab the top spot while Palmieri was the second and Coleman the third.

Next up, the Devils’ homestand continues as the Florida Panthers come to Newark on Tuesday. This will be another tough challenge for the Devils as Florida is currently (much like the Flyers) in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race. We will, of course, have coverage for you on Tuesday.