2021 Flames UFA Targets: Blake Coleman

Photo credit:Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
2 years ago
Welcome back to FlamesNation’s 2021 Flames UFA Targets series, in which our team of writers assesses some of the key players set to become unrestricted free agents on July 28, 2021.
Fresh off back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Blake Coleman appears destined for a new home.
The feisty 29-year-old winger has been one of the NHL’s most efficient scorers over the last two seasons. He provided the Bolts with excellent value during their 2020 and 2021 championship runs, managing to produce at a top-six level while being heavily relied upon to contribute in defensive situations.

The overview

Blake Coleman
Born Nov. 28, 1991 (29 years old)
Left-handed centre
5’11”, 207 pounds
Previous contract: three years, $1.8 million AAV
The New Jersey Devils selected Coleman — then an over-age prospect in his third year of draft eligibility — in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. After four full seasons at Ohio’s Miami University and two partial campaigns with the AHL’s Albany Devils, Coleman debuted with New Jersey for 23 games in the 2016–17 season.
Then-head coach John Hynes initially deployed Coleman sparingly, giving him an average of just 12:51 per game in all situations and 1:02 per night on the penalty kill. Hynes slightly expanded Coleman’s role the following year, bumping his total average TOI to 14:24 but continuing to keep him off the power play.
Coleman became a full-fledged top-six forward for the Devils in 2018–19, scoring a career-high 22 goals in 78 games and ranking fifth among the team’s regular forwards in average ice-time. Evolving-Hockey assessed Coleman’s play in 2017–18 as being worth 10.8 goals above replacement; the following year, Coleman contributed 5.3 goals above replacement.
The Devils organization fired Hynes and general manager Ray Shero during the tumultuous 2019–20 season, which ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coleman continued to thrive amidst the chaos, posting 21 goals and 10 assists in just 57 games with the team before being dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the trade deadline.

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Coleman saw his role and average ice-time significantly reduced upon his move to Tampa. After being used in a first-line role in his final go-round with the Devils, Coleman played out the remainder of the regular season in the Bolts’ middle-six and scored just one point in nine games before the pause.
Once the playoffs eventually started, Coleman showed why the Lightning paid a first-round pick and Nolan Foote to acquire his services. The Lightning dominated possession and vastly outscored their opponents during his shifts; individually, Coleman scored 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 25 games en route to his first of two Stanley Cups. In the wake of the 2019–20 season, Coleman received his first-ever votes for the Selke Trophy.
Tampa fixated upon Coleman as a target in large part due to his extremely affordable salary ($1.8 million) and the term remaining on his deal (the Bolts acquired him as a piece for two playoff runs, not just one). In 2020–21, Coleman posted 31 goals (14 points, 17 assists) in 55 regular season games and added 11 more points in the playoffs; his 5-on-5 underlying figures took a small hit in the 2021 postseason but he remained a key cog on Tampa’s penalty-killing unit and scored some clutch goals on the road to another Cup.

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By the numbers

Coleman finished one point ahead of Mikhail Sergachev for seventh on the 2020–21 Lightning in scoring; however, it’s worth taking a closer took and adjusting for his average of 12:16 even-strength TOI per game to get a better sense of his level of production.
Among the 730 NHL players who accumulated at least 100 minutes of ice-time at 5-on-5 last season, Coleman ranked in a tie for 88th with 2.04 points-per-60 minutes. (For reference, Johnny Gaudreau tied for 83rd with 2.08). Coleman also averaged 8.53 shots-per-60 and 8.89 scoring chances-per-60, respectively the 61st- and 63rd-best marks in the league.
Coleman averaged 2:12 of penalty-killing ice-time per game in 2020–21, good to rank 30th in the NHL. He was, by far, one of the most aggressive PKers in the entire league, managing to create 7.39 shots-per-60, 0.93 individual expected goals-per-60 (per Natural Stat Trick), 7.39 scoring chances-per-60, and 5.42 takeaways-per-60 in his 121 minutes (plus change) of man-disadvantage time. Those figures respectively ranked 8th, 10th, 5th, and 7th among those of the 153 forwards with at least 50 minutes of PK time in 2020–21.
During Coleman’s PK shifts, Tampa’s opponents mustered 78.86 shot attempts-per-60 and 5.73 expected goals-per-60. When adjusted for team strength, Coleman’s relative on-ice Corsi against-per-60 and expected goals against-per-60 figures respectively ranked 57th and 119th out of the league’s 153 most deployed PKers.
While Coleman may individually be a workhorse on the puck and one of the NHL’s most offensive-minded penalty-killers, the Bolts took a small hit (relative to the contributions of Alex Killorn and Yanni Gourde) whenever his PK unit hit the ice.
At 5-on-5, Coleman’s impacts in the NHL — in a variety of roles — have been pretty great.

A selection of Blake Coleman’s play-driving figures with the Lightning and Devils (data from Natural Stat Trick, all 5v5)
SeasonTeamIndividual Shots/60Individual Scoring Chances/60Individual Expected Goals/60On-Ice Relative
Goals For %
On-Ice Rel Expected Goals % On-Ice Rel
xG For/60
On-Ice Rel
xG Against/60
2019–20TB (9 GP)8.229.870.78+12.32-6.59-0.56-0.03
Note: In the second-last column, a positive number indicates Coleman’s team had better offensive results with him on the ice than without him. In the last column on the right, a negative number indicates Coleman’s team allowed fewer chances with him on the ice than without him.
More of Blake Coleman’s play-driving figures with the Devils and Lightning (data from Hockey-Reference and NST)
SeasonGames playedAverage TOIIndividual shots5v5 On-Ice Goals For5v5 On-Ice Goals Against5v5 On-Ice Expected Goals For5v5 On-Ice Expected Goals AgainstOn-Ice 5v5 shooting percentageOn-Ice 5v5 save percentage
2019–20 (NJ)5717:02182344027.3527.068.4489.33
2019–20 (TB)914:4218433.183.799.7694.64

During the latter part of his tenure in New Jersey, Coleman was deployed as a top-six winger and generated offense accordingly. He peppered opposing goaltenders with shots, many of the dangerous variety, while assisting to protect his own home plate. Extremely weak Devils goaltending hampered Coleman’s raw on-ice results in both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons.
With Tampa, Coleman has continued to score while adopting an increasingly emphasized role as a relentless penalty-killer. Coleman feasted offensively against more favourable competition and pulled his weight in his own zone. Today, he has two Stanley Cup rings to show for his performances.
If you value physicality in players, you’ll be happy to know Coleman has racked up 792 hits in his 301 NHL games. He topped out at 225 hits in 78 games during the 2018–19 season, posting 191 in 66 games the following year and just 109 in 55 contests last season.
Evolving-Hockey assessed Coleman as having averaged 8.1 goals above replacement and having been worth a total of $22.5 million since 2017–18. The same site projects Coleman to command a $4.698 million AAV for four years on his next contract and to provide 6.2 goals above replacement in 2021–22.
Blake Coleman is a tenacious and productive forward who can play up and down the lineup and adjust his style to suit the role bestowed upon him. If the Flames are looking for a defensively responsible secondary scorer who can wear down his opponents, Coleman should be at the top of their list.

2021 Flames UFA Targets

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