By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
With the NHL’s trade deadline just a week away hockey’s silly season is about to get even goofier.
The Bruins primary competition for the Atlantic Division title – not to mention the hottest team on the planet and seemingly unbeatable since just before Christmas – the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired 28-year-old forward Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
The already embarrassingly deep Bolts not only added the two-time 20 goal scorer but the price that they were willing to pay for a guy that most hockey fans couldn’t pick out of a police line up had to make B’s general manager Don Sweeney a bit queasy when he heard the news.
Along with prospect Nolan Foote – the 19-year-old son of Adam who is currently in his final year of the Western Hockey League – Tampa’s GM Julien BriseBois game the Devils the choice of his 2020 or 2021 first-round pick as well.
Talk about pricey.
In a roundtable review of the trade after it was announced, The Athletic’s Scott Burnside had this to say.
“He’s a heck of a competitor, which as Eric [Duhatschek] noted is just as important as his skill set – maybe more – and at the end of the day he just might be the guy that we point to in mid-June as that kind of piece. BriseBois is certainly banking a good chunk of change that Coleman is just that. It also ups the ante for teams like Boston, which now have to figure out if they’ve got the goods to get through Tampa.”
Do you think so?
For as much as those like my partner on The Bruins Craic podcast Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy might try to claim, the Black and Gold still lack the secondary scoring it will take to get out of an Eastern Conference that I would bet the house on won’t see the early round upsets of the Bolts, the Caps or the Pens that paved a pretty clear path for the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final last spring.
For all the thunder that the B’s top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have provided – a collective 91 goals and 204 points thus far this season – for head coach Bruce Cassidy so far this season, it is the same over-reliance on his top talent that led to the bitter Game 7 loss at the Garden last June that saw the St. Louis Blues hoist the Cup for the first time in the franchise’s history on the choppy ice of the not so historic barn in Boston.
Not only should the skewed scoring cause the Bruins brass to sweat as the deadline rapidly approaches – the over the top talented trio has been responsible for over 45% of the team’s goals scored – so should the fact that they rely on the powerplay as much – if not more – than any team that will enter the tournament in two months.
Of the 199 tallies the B’s have, 51 have come on the man advantage. And anyone who has even casually watched NHL playoff hockey knows, the officials’ whistles often become much more silent in April, May and June.
The bottom line is while Blake Coleman may never become a household name in hockey-crazed Boston and beyond, the deal that the Lightning made for the Devils far from franchise forward might cost the Bruins dearly in more ways than one.