The winner or loser of a trade is near impossible to determine in the days or weeks after it first happens, let alone the minutes and hours after a swap is confirmed. And such is the case in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s acquisition of Blake Coleman from the Devils in a deal that sent 2019 first-round pick Nolan Foote and a 2020 first-round selection to New Jersey.
What we don’t know yet is how Coleman will fare in Tampa Bay. We don’t know if he’ll be that ever-elusive final piece of the playoff puzzle that takes the Lightning from perennial contenders to Stanley Cup champions. And what we also don’t know is how Foote will pan out, what kind of NHL player he will become and what impact he’ll make with the Devils, nor do we know how New Jersey will use their shiny new first-round selection. There are so many variables that determining who won and who lost and what the lasting impacts of this deal will be at this very moment borders on impossible.
So, let’s instead focus on what we do know, beginning with the indisputable fact that the Lightning paid an unquestionably steep price for Coleman.
Foote, the younger brother of fellow Tampa Bay prospect Cal Foote, was one of the few Lightning prospects in that can’t-miss territory. He’s been a standout with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, posted three goals and five points in seven games on Canada’s gold medal-winning World Junior Championship squad in January and is regarded as an almost sure-thing NHLer.