The Tampa Bay Lightning made one of the first big splashes of trade deadline season on Sunday evening, acquiring forward Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils.
Tampa, who was unceremoniously bounced in the first round last spring, paid a hefty price: they sent a first-round pick and 2019 first-round pick Nolan Foote to the Devils.
While it’s a little silly to ask what Tampa’s trade means for the Bruins, it’s worth noting that this deal may serve as a sort of “going rate” for deals going forward.
Coleman, who turned 28 in November, is a good player. He had 22 goals on a not great New Jersey team last season, and already had 21 on a bad New Jersey team this season before being sent to Tampa.
(It’s also worth noting that according to Darren Dreger, the Bruins were interested in Coleman.)
Then there’s this:
Blake Coleman is absolutely relentless, under contract for another season. Also just one of four NHLers to have at least 20 goals and 200 hits last year. Josh Anderson, Alex Ovechkin, and Tom Wilson were others. Bolts have already won 22 of their last 25. Sweeney on the clock.— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) February 17, 2020
You could argue that Tampa remembered that first-round series last spring, where (and I hate to use this narrative, but here goes) they were way more skilled than the Columbus Blue Jackets but essentially got outworked, outmuscled, and sent packing.
Coleman is still under contract for another year after this one, carrying a cap hit of $1.8 million. This can go one of two ways in terms of price: sometimes, teams will pay more because they get an extra year, while other teams will want to give up less because they’ll have to do more salary cap machinations to make the deal.
Still, Tampa clearly knew that they needed another forward, and they went out and got their man. The first-round pick is reportedly the one that they acquired from Vancouver in last summer’s JT Miller trade, so they’re not really giving up one of their own selections.
However, it’s still a first-round pick, arguably the most coveted (and probably overrated) asset an NHL team can have in its back pocket.
If you were to look at this from a Bruins perspective, it’s similar to trading a 2020 first-rounder and John Beecher for Blake Coleman. Is that worth it? Yeah, probably.
What makes it a little more interesting is wondering what, if anything, the price paid for Coleman means for other guys on the block.
For example, Chris Kreider has to be considered more valuable than Coleman. If Coleman went for what was essentially 2 first-round picks, what is Kreider worth? 3?
Does this now mean Tyler Toffoli is worth, say, 2 firsts and a second? It’s hard to say, as these trades aren’t conducted in a vacuum, and some teams have different needs/wants than others.
What this really means, per our friends at Raw Charge, is that Tampa is going all-in. If you’re the Bruins, and you see that Tampa has decided it’s time to go all-in, what does that mean for you, when you have an older roster?
It’s worth remembering too that the Pittsburgh Penguins sent out a conditional first-round pick in acquiring Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild last week, so other Eastern Conference teams are stocking up.
(Speaking of the Zucker trade, I think the Coleman one is more similar to one the Bruins would make, as I doubt they’re looking to take on a Zucker-esque contract with several years remaining.)
If the Bruins are going to improve significantly at the deadline, it looks like at least one first-round pick is going to end up being on the block. No team likes to send out valuable assets, but for the Bruins, the future has to be tomorrow’s problem.
Two teams in the East have already bolstered their rosters. It’s important that the Bruins don’t overreact and overpay, but they also can’t get caught flat-footed.
Good luck, Don.