I need to say that the Edmonton Oilers have received again a couple of followers by lastly buying and selling away disgruntled agitator Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for ahead James Neal. I might personally enterprise to say that this deal executed by common supervisor Ken Holland is the most important commerce victory Edmonton has had since receiving ahead David Perron from the St. Louis Blues in 2013.
Although the Perron acquisition wasn’t a certain win for the Oil at first look six years and 50 organizational trades in the past (he went on to supply 57 factors within the 2013-14 season), Oilers followers can lastly see a commerce that may actually enhance their workforce offensively. Unquestionably, Neal will make an even bigger influence on the Oilers than Lucic did and right here’s why:
Neal was caught in Flames head coach Invoice Peters’ doghouse for almost all of final season, with the previous 40-goal scorer typically discovering himself demoted to the fourth line. To be truthful, Peters began Neal at the start of the season within the prime six group taking part in alongside Flames superstars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, giving him a possibility to succeed. However much like Lucic in Edmonton, Neal’s frustration together with his lack of manufacturing was felt amongst his teammates, too, which can have contributed in direction of the dearth of chemistry between he and his linemates who felt pressured to assist him succeed. Evidently, it was tarnished relationships with the coach and teammates that in the end drove him out of Calgary.
Former Dallas Star Ben Lovejoy checks James Neal (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
The Oilers are hoping that Neal can rekindle the success he loved as a rookie taking part in for present Oilers head coach Dave Tippett with the Dallas Stars, underneath whom he registered 24 objectives for in his inaugural marketing campaign. Having a earlier relationship with Tippett shall be essential for Neal as Tippett could have confidence in him and supply him with the “lengthy leash” he by no means obtained in Calgary to return again to the best way he performed with the Vegas Golden Knights simply over one calendar 12 months in the past.
Neal additionally has an excellent relationship with Mike Smith, who was instrumental in convincing the native of Whitby, Ontario to signal with the Flames final summer time. Having Smith as an excellent buddy, who’s at all times nicely favored by his teammates wherever he performs, will definitely assist Neal combine with the opposite gamers within the locker room.
Former Vegas Golden Knights left wing James Neal (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports activities)Former Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports activities)Along with having performed with Smith, Neal confirmed some promising chemistry with Connor McDavid on the 2018 NHL All-Star sport, taking part in on a line with him. This pleasure is not going to solely inspire Neal, however can even give the Oilers captain extra belief within the gamers round him by having a former 40-goal scorer someplace close to him within the lineup.
Another notable Oilers gamers Neal has performed with earlier than embrace Kris Russell and Sam Gagner once they all suited up for the 2007 Canadian gold medal World Juniors Championship workforce. This familiarity and constructive relationships with present gamers will certainly get him a step forward of the place he was when he began with the Flames final season.
Expertise Enjoying with Superstars
Throughout Neal’s 4 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he was a staple on Evgeni Malkin’s wing and helped the Russian sniper safe the Hart, Artwork Ross, and Ted Lindsay Trophies within the 2011-12 season. I believe Neal’s capability to search out open house and convert when offered the alternatives shall be helpful for the Oilers’ three-headed heart monster consisting of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
James Neal, proven above, recorded 40 objectives alongside Evgeni Malkin. (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports activities)
I primarily envision Neal taking part in with RNH persistently, permitting McDavid and Draisaitl to remain collectively. As well as, Neal will certainly add one other weapon to the Oilers’ first unit power-play arsenal alongside their celebrity facilities, hopefully with the ability to convert on the numerous one-shot alternatives Lucic typically didn’t.
Draisaitl centering Neal and a speedy winger like Tyler Benson can be an possibility. This line could be harking back to when Neal performed with Malkin, who shares many qualities with Draisaitl. Malkin and Draisaitl each have dominating our bodies who can safely carry the puck into the zone and keep possession utilizing their dimension alongside the boards.
Connor McDavid (97), Milan Lucic (27) and Leon Draisaitl (29) (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports activities)
I imagine Neal will have the ability to sustain with the velocity of the Oilers’ prime weapons loads higher than Lucic did and can play loads smarter off reads as a result of he’ll know which spots to go to so as to convert. Tippett actually has plenty of choices to mess around with in his top-six, however one factor for certain is that Neal can present the 20-plus objectives the Oilers are desperately lacking.
Show Me Proper, Neal!
Although the Oilers needed to retain 12.5% of Lucic’s wage and we’ve but to see Neal play in an Oilers uniform, I believe we will all agree that the Oilers got here out on prime on this deal given the quantity of upside and potential Neal possesses to return to his previous self. Sending a stagnant overpaid bruiser over to the Alberta rival in alternate for an nearly assured 20-plus objective scorer positively helps put into perspective how far more dynamic Edmonton’s offence might be. To Neal: please dwell as much as expectations and never make me remorse writing this text in excessive hopes for you, or else you’ll make all of us Oilers followers look extra silly than we already are!