As expected, the Tampa Bay Lightning have allowed Blake Coleman to enter the free agency as they couldn’t afford his wages due to their salary cap. Coleman eventually decided to sign a 6-year deal worth $4.9 million. That’s $3.1 million more than he was making in Florida. So the question begs, who can the Lighting replace Coleman with? He was a vital part of their back-to-back Stanley Cups. Coleman was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for Nolan Foote and a conditional first-round pick. Let’s see how this can impact their NHL odds.
Next Man Up
During his time with the team, Coleman contributed 24 points in 48 playoff games. Now, it seems the Lighting will be promoting from within their own ranks to fill the void of the now-disbanded third line that included Blake Coleman. Tampa Bay has always done a good job at developing prospects from within their system in recent seasons. The third line could possibly be filled by Ross Colton, Mitchell Stephens, and Mathieu Joseph.
Both Colton and Joseph enter the 2021-22 season with a decent amount of NHL experience. Joseph has played in 163 regular and 10 postseason games. Colton, entering his second NHL season, has played in 53 total games. Colton scored the winning goal in game 5 of the Stanley Cup final last season.
Stephens has 45 NHL games under his belt, but his progress was hindered by a lower back injury, which seen him play in just 7 NHL games last season. Colton, Stephens, and Joseph all have speed, physicality and creativity which was such a vital part of their 3rd line last season. Coleman was as good as it gets for a 3rd line player but we believe one of these three, if not all of them, can step up to the mark and become a regular name throughout the NHL.
The Lighting can mix it up with Mitchell Stephens, the 36-year-old veteran, and newcomer Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who has racked up a total of 98 points in 507 NHL games. Bellemare brings with him vast experience that has seen his teams make the playoffs in 5 of his 7 seasons in the NHL. Here is what the Lighting GM said about the addition of Bellemare to the roster.
“Our third line was incredible, and those players are going to be missed. That’s part of the reason why we were excited to bring in Bellemare. He can assume some of those minutes… taking big face-offs, especially in the defensive zone. He’s a sneaky underrated, really good defensive forward and, by all accounts, a great guy to have in the locker room.”
In the absence of Goodrow and Coleman, the French player will have a significant role in the penalty kill role for the Lighting. Last season, he had the 3rd most penalty kill minutes for the Colorado Avalanche. Also, recently signed Corey Perry is most likely going to appear on the 4th line, although he would be a solid option for the 3rd line also. He’s known for his grit and hard work on the ice and he was a vital part of the Montreal Canadians team who made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals last season.
He scored 4 goals and racked up 6 assists in their playoff run. If he can hit 10 post-season points with the Canadians and make it to the finals, it makes you wonder what Perry can do for the Lighting even way down the pecking order? Perry is a good, solid, signing and a great replacement for Coleman right now. Despite it being a quick fix, seeing as Perry is 36 years old, it might just be what the Lighting need to go for their three Stanley Cups in a row.
It’s pretty much the same Lighting team as last season, with the exception of that 3rd line that boasted Gourde, Coleman, and Goodrow. These have all departed in the off-season. Essentially the Lighting just need to produce a solid 3rd line again and they should be within contention of the Stanley Cup, making them one of the hottest NHL picks for the 2021-2022 season.
All the players we named above will somehow have to try and fill the boots of last season’s 3rd line, but we believe the depth to their roster is very strong and the addition of Bellemare and Perry have been solid signings. Ross Colton, Mitchell Stephens, and Mathieu Joseph are all great players and ready to take that step to the next level. So there you have it, that is how the Lightning will replace Coleman next season. They don’t have one specific player coming into fix the situation, it’s a whole host of players who they will most likely chop and change until they get their solid starting line-up.