Rangers offseason target: UFA Blake Coleman

By Anthony Scultore
Mar 13, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Blake Coleman (20) celebrates as he scores a goal against the Nashville Predators during the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot of expectations this summer that Chris Drury will address the New York Rangers third and fourth lines. He said as much during an interview on MSG soon after his announcement as President and GM.

Chris Drury looking for proper fits for the bottom six

Chris Drury has a mandate to get the Rangers back in the playoffs next season. Owner James Dolan made that clear when he fired John Davidson and Jeff Gorton. He acknowledged the boss’ edict when asked at the end of the season how he would build his roster. Drury’s answer was subtle but poignant.

“We need to take a deep look at what everyone’s roles are,” Drury hinted to his offseason approach. “We’ve got to get to a place where when you jump over the boards you know what your role is.” It sounded almost like indictment to how the third and fourth lines were handled this past season. A mistake Drury and whomever the new coach cannot repeat.

We’ve already written about players to target like Jordan Martinook and Casey Cizikas. Here’s another name that provides sandpaper and offensive punch, Blake Coleman.

NY Rangers offseason target: Blake Coleman

blake coleman
Mar 7, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) makes a save on a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning center Blake Coleman (20) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The 29 year-old center turned winger had himself an excellent season for the Tampa Bay Lightning with 31 points in 55 games. Coleman averaged 15:11 during the year and would be a nice fit to the Blueshirts third line.

At 5-11 and 200 lbs, he is a solid forward who is aggressive on the puck, and hits with purpose. This season he racked up 109 hits but has been known to throw his body a lot more. Prior to the 2020-21 campaign, starting in 2017 he had 216, 225, and 191 his respectively. The guy is a wrecking ball and is the type of player that makes the opposition defense look over their shoulder before playing the puck.

He will be an unrestricted free agent this season and the Rangers should give him a look. Coleman is coming off a deal that pays him $1.8 million AAV on the cap, and an increase is coming. The cap-strapped Lightning will likely let him walk, which will make him a very attractive player on the market come July 28th.

With his 20 goal potential, he will be commanding a nice contract. I would expect something in the $3-4 million range for about five seasons. It’s something Drury should consider. If he’s serious about making the playoffs and having effective players that can play a third line role, Coleman is a good place to start.

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