Follow me on Twitter @ToddCordell
With next to nothing happening in the hockey world now, I've decided to take the plunge and write daily profiles for members of the New Jersey Devils.
I'll be commenting on the year each player just had as well as their projected role and expectations for 2019-20.
I've written five so far, with Will Butcher being the most recent player profiled
Today we're going with Blake Coleman.
78 games played, 34 points (22 goals, 14 assists), 17:01 average time on ice
1.47 points/60, +2.22 CF% Rel, -4.13 GF% Rel, +1.39 xGF% Rel, 96.8 PDO
Coleman was one of the real bright spots on last year's team. Perhaps *the* bright spot when comparing his output relative to expectations. He scored 22 goals – only Kyle Palmieri bested that – and shot a reasonable 10.3% while doing it. In 2017-18 he shot 8.9%. The increase in production wasn't a byproduct of puck luck but rather volume/efficiency. Coleman was also one of the more energetic, engaged, and entertaining players to watch on a nightly basis, and his work as one of the aces while shorthanded was nothing short of excellent. A lack of discipline was about the only real blemish in his work last season. He was otherwise an effective player at both ends of the ice despite being relied upon more heavily than I think anyone would have expected.
Coleman scored as many 5v5 goals (13) as Patrik Laine, and more than the likes of Jason Zucker and Mikko Rantanen.
Coleman is going to be very valuable again but for a much different reason. He's almost certainly not going to pot 20+ goals. He won't be expected to or afforded the opportunity to. Last season he averaged better than 17 minutes per game, which ranked 5th among regular Devils forwards. That's not happening again. I'd bet on Nico Hischier, Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac – the four above him last season – as well as several of Nikita Gusev, Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt and perhaps even Wayne Simmonds logging more minutes. The quantity isn't going to be there. I do think Coleman will play an important role, though. I expect he'll play heavy defensive minutes alongside Zajac, allowing John Hynes and co. to put Hischier and Hughes-driven lines in more favorable situations to produce offense. Coleman will also be one of the key penalty killers on a team with four of the top-50 most penalized players in the league over the last couple seasons.
numbers via naturalstattrick.com and hockey-reference.com
top-5 goaltenders in the Eastern Conference?
top-5 defnesemen in the Eastern Conference?
top-5 wingers in the Eastern Conference?
2019 player profile: Miles Wood
2019 player profile: Travis Zajac
2019 player profile: Damon Severson
On Will Butcher's three-year extension
On the Nikita Gusev trade
Pavel Zacha will play an important role in 2019-20
Wayne Simmonds' poor 2018-19 campaign was not a one-off