Blake Coleman was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning by the New Jersey Devils for forward prospect Nolan Foote and a first-round pick in the 2020 or 2021 NHL Draft on Sunday.
"I'm familiar with their team as a whole and some of their star players. I've played against coach [Jon] Cooper since I was in juniors, so I'm familiar with how he runs his ship," Coleman said. "I've always been a team-first player and team-first guy. Whatever spot they put me in, I'll be willing and excited to help the team whatever way I can. I think I have a playoff-type game and a will to compete and a will to win. Obviously, they already have a lot of the pieces you need to win a championship, but any little extra I can bring, I'm happy to do it."
Coleman, a 28-year-old forward, had 31 points (21 goals, 10 assists) in 57 games for the Devils this season. A third-round pick (No. 75) by New Jersey at the 2011 NHL Draft, he had 94 points (57 goals, 37 assists) in 237 games with the Devils. Coleman has one year remaining on a three-year contract with an average annual value of $1.8 million. He can become a free agent on July 1, 2021.
"You can never have too many good players," Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said. "Coleman is going to fit great into our group. He's a speedy, powerful skater, he's a relentless puck hound, he's a super competitive guy. He blocks shots, he hits, he scores. He plays a heavy game. He's just a really good compliment to the group of players that we already have."
Coleman said he hopes to make his Lightning debut against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
"My wife, we're expecting our first baby in two weeks," Coleman said. "We're trying to get some answers as to when we can really expect the baby to be coming and as of now, our plan is to have me join the team in Vegas and hopefully get my first game action on Thursday."
[RELATED: NHL Trade Tracker | Greene traded to Islanders by Devils]
Foote, 19, was Tampa Bay's first-round pick (No. 27) at the 2019 NHL Draft. The son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote, he has 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 26 games this season with Kelowna of the Western Hockey League.
"He's 6-foot-4, scores goals, has an NHL shot already," Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. "He turns pro next year, so we'll get to see him quicker. There's a lot to like about this player."
New Jersey will receive the Vancouver Canucks' first-round pick per the conditions of the trade that sent forward J.T. Miller from the Lightning to the Canucks on June 22, 2019. If Vancouver fails to qualify for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, New Jersey will receive Vancouver's first-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft instead of a first-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft.
"There aren't too many stars that bring as much value as he does that come with a cap hit of $1.8 million dollars. So obviously, that's appealing," BriseBois said. "Like I said, I like our team, I believe in this group, and now I think we're just all the more stronger because we've added Blake Coleman. Not only will he make us a better, more competitive team this year, but he'll also make us a better, more competitive team next year as well. So for all those reasons, I think I was right when I mentioned in December that prices at this time of year were very high, and to acquire good players you have to pay a hefty premium, and we certainly did that today. But we could afford to do so. What I felt we could not afford to do is [not] give this group of players every chance to have as good a spring as possible. So that's why I made the decision to pay the price and add the player to the group."
Tampa Bay (39-15-5) has won 10 games in a row and trails the Boston Bruins by three points for the Eastern Conference lead.
It was the second trade the Devils made Sunday; they also sent defenseman Andy Greene to the New York Islanders for a second-round pick at the 2021 NHL Draft and defenseman prospect David Quenneville.