Why the Bruins should make Blake Coleman a priority this offseason
Updated: Jul 12, 2021
Blake Coleman might just be the perfect player for the Bruins to sign this offseason. He has helped the Tampa Bay Lightning to back to back Stanley Cup wins, and is very unlikely to resign in Tampa given their cap situation.
By the end of the year it was clear that Boston's third line was simply not getting the job done. All season Charlie Coyle had a revolving door on both of his wings, and it really effected him as he was not nearly as effective as past years, and totaled just 16 points in the regular season. Part of that is surely due to fighting through injuries, but he still needs help on his wings.
That third line was one of the main reasons Boston ultimately fell in the playoffs, and it wasn't like coach Bruce Cassidy didn't try many players on that line. Nick Ritchie was scoring a lot of goals early in the year, but was awful to end the season and in the playoffs. Jake DeBrusk only harmed the line when he played with them. Trent Frederic was by no means ready for a third line role, and Sean Kuraly will never be ready for that. There just were not any solutions for Coyle's wings.
They also completely failed to produce goals the majority of the year. Ritchie scored 15 goals (five on the powerplay, and the majority of the others on Krejci's wing before the Taylor Hall trade), Coyle six, and DeBrusk five. Maybe that would be close to good enough if they could contribute in other ways, but they simply don't.
None of them are very physical and a mean streak only occasionally comes out in Ritchie. Neither Ritchie nor DeBrusk forecheck well, and they don't play a phenomenal defensive game either.
Should the Bruins resign Taylor Hall and David Krejci, improving the third and fourth line should be one of Don Sweeney's main priorities.
Coleman is literally the perfect third line player. He scored 20 goals in both 2019 and 2020 (and was on pace for it through 82 games this season), and absolutely grinds every single game. He is physical, he is mean, and he is incredibly tough to play against. It's no coincidence that the Lightning added him last season and promptly won the Cup twice. In prior seasons they had disappointed in the playoffs due largely to a lack of grit and toughness. He helped change that.
He clearly knows how to play in the postseason (he had 13 playoff points last year, and 11 during the playoffs this season, including some timely and spectacular ones - you know the one).
While the Bruins have a lot of hard workers, besides Craig Smith they really don't have many guys who have similar styles to Coleman in that they are simply dogged forecheckers, are willing to take a beating in front of the other team's net, are great defensively, and can score. Neither their third or fourth line was even close to as tough and physical as they need to be to help Boston to a Cup this season.
In addition, Charlie Coyle thrives with linemates who are good forecheckers, and are going to get open when Coyle has the puck. That is exactly what Coleman can do.
Overall, Coleman is a do it all kind of guy that would be an absolute perfect fit on Boston's third line. He might garner around $4 million per year because of the success he's had in Tampa, but if the Bruins are going to make another Cup run, that is well worth it.