April 30, 2019 | 11:35am ET
NEAL EXPERIMENT COULD LEAD TO WELCOMED TRADE
James Neal, right wing
When James Neal signed his five-year, $28.75 million contract with the Calgary Flames last summer, the expectation was he’d line up on one of the club’s top-two lines and supply some extra fire-power up front.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, Neal never fit into head coach Bill Peters’ plan and was delegated to a bottom-six role. On the season, Neal registered seven goals and 12 assists for 19 points in 63 games, the lowest point totals of his career – it was the first season of his career he never scored 21 or more goals.
Flames GM Brad Treliving will explore the trade market on Neal this off-season, and sources tell TFP a move would be welcomed by the 31-year-old winger given the circumstances of this season.
Neal does not own any no-trade protection and can be moved to a deal in need of help up front.
Neal’s $5.75 million salary cap hit may be a slight concern for some teams, given this season’s stats, but league sources suggest some clubs would be willing to give him a mulligan, though would pay a high price to acquire him.
Several teams had interest in signing Neal last summer and could explore acquiring him via trade this off-season, including the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks.