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2014 NHL Draft Central

Predators acquire Neal from Pittsburgh, send off Hornqvist and Spaling


Jun 27, 2014

The Predators had a bit of a shocker before their selection in the first round of the NHL Draft. In what could be their second best trade in franchise history, Nashville packaged long-time forward Patric Hornqvist and the expiring rights to restricted free agent Nick Spaling in return for forward James Neal.

While Neal has been suspended a total of three time in his young career by the NHL, the Predators are receiving a true top-six forward. This is a definitive piece of the puzzle that has been missing from their roster since over the past two seasons. 2011-2012 may have been the last time Nashville had a top-six forward, with Alex Radulov back in a Predators jersey just to leave once Nashville was eliminated by Phoenix.

Neal is locked in for the next four season at $5 million per season (actual salary and cap hit). It couldn’t be a better deal for the Predators.

While Nashville gets their top-six forward, they are sending out one of their hardest working and long-term players in Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist’s 216 points in 363 career games for the Predators will be a big loss for what they always believed to be one of their top forwards on their team. Granted, in most other systems Hornqvist may not be a top-six forward, yet he’ll do well in Pittsburgh alongside players like Sidney Crosby.

From the Nashville Predators PR department:

“Nashville, Tenn. (June 27, 2014) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired proven, consistent goal-scoring forward James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

Neal, 26 (9/3/87), tallied 40 goals in 2011-12, and was on a 40-goal pace in the shortened 2012-13 season (21 goals in 40 games) and averaged better than a point per game (61 points (27g-31a) in 59 games) last season, good enough for fourth on the Penguins. In 2013-14, he was second on the team, and eighth in the League with 11 power-play goals. He hit the 50-point mark for the third time in his career, and the 20-goal mark for the 6th straight year.

Dallas’ second pick, 33rd overall (second round), in the 2005 Entry Draft, Neal was traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Neal was named a 2012 NHL First Team All-Star and represented Pittsburgh in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. A Plymouth Whaler (OHL) from 2003-07, Neal was named to the OHL First Team All-Star in 2007 and to the Canadian Major Junior Second All-Star Team (2007). The Whitby, Ontario, native represented Canada at the 2005 Under-18 World Championship, the 2007 World Junior Championship and both the 2009 and 2011 IIHF World Championships.”