The arms race in the Atlantic Division has officially begun.
The NHL trade deadline is now a week away, but the surging Lightning didn’t wait until Feb. 24 to pull the trigger on a move — as Tampa Bay acquired Devils winger Blake Coleman on Sunday evening in exchange for prospect Nolan Foote and a first-round pick.
The cost to acquire a winger like Coleman might have been steep, but Lightning GM Julien BriseBois made quite the statement by agreeing to such a swap — considering Tampa is already looking like a wagon after winning 22 of its last 25 games.
With Coleman added to the mix, Jon Cooper has yet another weapon to add to a Lightning club that ranks second in the NHL in goals per game (3.54). Coleman, on pace to tally 30 goals and post 45 points this season, will also provide some relief on the financial front for Tampa, given that the 28-year-old skater is under contract through next year with a minuscule AAV of $1.8 million.
Given the vacancy still present on David Krejci’s line, the Bruins have been linked to just about every available winger under the sun over the last couple of weeks — with Boston reportedly in the running for Coleman as late as today.
Boston has plenty of time to swing another deal in an effort to load up for the postseason. But of all the teams expected to be in the running for Coleman, few expected it would be Tampa that would make the move, given how stacked that Lightning team already looks going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.