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Blake Coleman continues to impress and a case of perception vs reality

January 17, 2020, 11:53 AM ET [3 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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I’m running out of ways to express how impressed I am with Blake Coleman. The guy has been consistently fantastic over the last couple of years and, somehow, continues to get better with each passing game at the age of 28. It’s remarkable.

He is excellent defensively, creates a ton of chances at 5v5, and very few – if any – can kill penalties like him. He’s an absolute puck hound. His aggressiveness, combined with closing speed and hustle, lends itself to so many turnovers that result in odd-man rushes the other way.

It’s not a stretch to say he has no equal offensively. He’s tied for the league-lead in shorthanded goals since the beginning of 2017-18 and nobody is touching him in terms of chance generation.

Coleman has been credited with 58 scoring chances on the PK. Michael Grabner slots 2nd with 46 while Brandon Saad (41) is the only other player above 40.

I know he’ll be 30 early on in Year 1 of a new deal but, if the Devils can keep the term reasonable, I have no problem paying the man.

He’s earned it and, as much as anyone, is the heartbeat of the team.

•••

It’s funny how different perception can be from reality. There is a really good example of this going on with the Devils right now and I want to touch on it. Before I do, though, let me give you the facts. I’m not even going to share the position these two play. Just take a look at the results they’ve garnered at 5v5 this season and meet me after the jump.



So just to clarify: the Devils have been out-scored and out-chanced (in terms of Grade A’s) by the exact same amount with both players on the ice. Player A has four more points, though, and a marginally higher expected goals for%.

One of the two is Sami Vatanen. A good chunk of the fanbase deems him the best defenseman on the roster and a key piece that must be retained. Another chunk would want him moved only if there is a 1st round pick and/or high-tier prospect coming the other way. Fair enough. I’m not going to argue with anyone’s opinions, I’m just illustrating how highly people view this player.

The other player is Will Butcher. He’s been a whipping boy of the fanbase (understandably so at times) and at $3.73 million per is regarded by some as a disastrous overpayment by former GM Ray Shero.

Let’s just say that is true. Butcher is the one with more points and a marginally better xGF%, though. If he’s not worth $3.73M, then why is Vatanen a must-keep player worth $6M+ on a long-term deal? More or less because of how he *looks* (and some PP1 inflation).

I realize Butcher generally plays P3 but that comes with a significantly worse partner and it's not like Vatanen has spent much time on the matchup pairing.

If the perception really is that Vatanen's a $6 million+ player, then the Devils have every reason to trade him and take advantage of that.

Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com

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