For former Devils forward Blake Coleman, saying goodbye was no easy task.
On Sunday night, the New Jersey Devils traded Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward prospect Nolan Foote and a 2020 or 2021 first-round draft pick. The trade was the second across a span of a few hours as interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald also dealt captain Andy Greene to the New York Islanders earlier in the afternoon.
Coleman, a third round pick in 2011, took to social media to bid farewell to Devils fans and New Jersey, a place where he "felt at home."
"To the Devils faithful," Coleman said. "I want to thank you for welcoming me with open arms since being drafted 9 years ago. My wife and I have felt at home here and have felt all of the love and support over the past few years.
Coleman tallied 31 points in his fourth season with the Devils. His 21 goals was one shy of Kyle Palmieri's mark for the team lead through 57 games. As the Devils remained in the back of the Metropolitan Division and a playoff spot distanced itself farther as each game passed, Coleman became a prime trade-deadline candidate.
The 28-year-old attracted a significant amount of attention from a variety of teams. Coleman is set to earn $1.8 million this season and is under control for another season, becoming an unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 season.
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Boston Bruins were heavily interested in acquiring Coleman before the Lightning offered the 2019 first round selection and a draft pick — originally owned by the Vancouver Canucks. In a draft highlighted by prospects Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield, the Devils could potentially hold two first round picks.
Coleman will face his former team for the first time on March 15. Devils fans, however, are forced to wait until next season to properly welcome Coleman back to the Prudential Center.