In another dismal New Jersey Devils season, there are a bunch of notable achievements being lost underneath the wreckage of what was supposed to be a promising campaign. One such story is the tale of Blake Coleman, who we have watched grow over the last few seasons from “Good Bottom 6 guy” to a “Why isn’t he getting power play minutes every game?” player. He has also seemingly grown beyond his “pickles” moniker (from his usage of pickle juice to re-hydrate) as he has become a legitimate goal scoring force for the Devils.
Coleman was initially a third round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, and did not see any minutes with Jersey’s Team until the 2016-17 season. He would only appear in 23 games, recording a goal and an assist in his first tenure with the team. 2017-18 would be his first full season in the NHL, and Blake would contribute a respectable 13 goals and 12 assists. Considering that according to TSN, only 30% of third round choices become a low-level NHL player, this would have to be viewed as a success. Coleman became an important piece playing shutdown minutes next to Travis Zajac (both at even strength and when a man down) as the Devils made the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.
While both last season and this season are disappointing for a team supposedly trending in the right direction, Coleman cannot be placed in that category. Last season saw him notch career highs in goals (22), and assists (14), while also contributing points on the power play and penalty kill. This season, with 34 games still to be played, Coleman is on pace to shatter his career high in goals, with 19 to this point. So why is the title calling him the hero we deserve? Simply because Coleman is exciting to watch, he works hard all the time, and he exemplifies what Devils hockey should be. If the Devils had a team of 18 Blake Colemans, their record would be a heck of a lot better than it is now.
Just to reinforce how electric he is:
Coleman appears to be another Devil who has been finding more success since the John Hynes dismissal/Taylor Hall trade. In the 16 games since these moves were made, Coleman has potted 10 of his goals this season, meaning that in the 32 prior, he only scored nine times. While the hat trick against Toronto might be inflating that “post era” stat a bit, it’s still impressive to see the hot streak Blake has been on lately. Should he continue to score at the rate he has all season, he could finish with 30+ goals; if he continues to play as he has under Alain Nasreddine, he could reach an even higher total, which would be all the more impressive on this current Devils team.
The Devils have a promising group of young, talented players, but that doesn’t mean that a slightly older guy like Coleman should be viewed as unimportant, or even as someone who could or should be traded, as rumors have stated and articles have examined. The Devils will need to have some veteran players to insulate youngsters coming up throughout the lineup, and Coleman is the perfect player to do so: he plays hard in all zones, he puts points on the board, and he’s not afraid to stick up for his teammates when the need to do so arises. Hopefully the Devils realize this and keep Coleman around for the foreseeable future.
What do you think of the play of Blake Coleman? Are you happy with his play this season? Is he the hero we need and/or deserve? Would you like to see the Devils keep him around? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!