TAMPA — It’s official: the Lightning’s third line is no more.
As expected, forward Blake Coleman left Tampa Bay when the free-agency period opened Wednesday afternoon, agreeing to a six-year contract with the Flames, his agent, Brian Bartlett, confirmed.
Coleman’s deal carries an average annual value of $4.9 million, $3.1 more than what he was making in Tampa Bay.
With two Stanley Cup rings (and two kids to match), Coleman told TSN he is ready for a new challenge and “slower lifestyle” in Calgary with his wife, Jordan.
“I feel that I gave all that I could to Tampa, the city, the organization,” Coleman said. “Obviously, maybe in a non-cap world, things work out differently here, but I think there’s a ton of mutual respect between my family, myself and the organization. ... We’re also very excited for the next chapter.”
Coleman, 29, was acquired from New Jersey just ahead of the 2020 trade deadline and was a key component of both Stanley Cup runs for the Lightning.
“We were a little upset, honestly, when we were traded from (New) Jersey a couple years ago,” Coleman said. “... And in hindsight, it was the best thing that ever happened in terms of our career, our family. We’ve just had an incredible two years here in Tampa, not even two years, but it feels like we’ve been here a long time.”
Coleman compiled 13 goals and 17 assists with Tampa Bay during the 2020-21 regular season before contributing another 11 points (three goals and eight assists) en route to the team’s second straight Cup.
In a short time, Coleman made an impact. His gritty style of play was pivotal on the team’s top penalty-kill unit (which was fourth-best in the league at 82.4 percent efficiency), where he joined Goodrow and defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Erik Cernak.
Coleman also scored one of the franchise’s most memorable goals in Game 2 of the Cup final against Montreal, diving toward the net and scoring the go-ahead goal in the closing seconds of the second period.
Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said at the start of the offseason that Coleman was one of the players who deserved a raise in free agency. BriseBois wasn’t sure, however, if he would be the general manager who could give it to him.
Coleman’s agent, Brian Bartlett, told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday that while there was a “mutual interest” in Coleman returning to Tampa Bay, it was unlikely given the Lightning’s cap situation “unless something totally unexpected happens.”
Coleman told TSN that Calgary wasn’t a slam-dunk decision. He mulled it over with his family for a few days while also considering other situations that brought different offers.
“This was a very well thought-out couple of days,” Coleman said. “Very stressful, but it’s a great problem to have. We feel very fortunate that we had great options. And ultimately, it was family-first for me. I thought it was going be best for my kids, my wife, things like that.
“...There’s so many different aspects when you have a family that changes the way you do all the different scenarios. We had tons of input. We have big families, lots of opinions, many of whom did not know where Calgary was on a map, but we’re excited with the way we went.”
Other free agency and trade news:
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