James Neal (ice hockey)

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James Neal
James Neal 2018-02-04 1.jpg
Neal with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018
Born (1987-09-03) September 3, 1987 (age 32)
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 212 lb (96 kg; 15 st 2 lb)
Position Left wing / Right wing
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
Edmonton Oilers
Dallas Stars
Pittsburgh Penguins
Nashville Predators
Vegas Golden Knights
Calgary Flames
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 33rd overall, 2005
Dallas Stars
Playing career 2007–present
Website jamesneal18.com

James Neal (born September 3, 1987), nicknamed The Real Deal,[1] is a Canadian professional ice hockey winger for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL). While playing junior ice hockey with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he was selected in the second round, 33rd overall, by the Dallas Stars in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

After one season with the Stars' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Iowa Stars, Neal played his NHL rookie year with Dallas in 2008–09. During his third NHL season, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he played four seasons before being traded to the Nashville Predators. After three seasons with the Predators, Neal was selected in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft by the Vegas Golden Knights.

Playing career[edit]

Minor[edit]

Neal started in the CYO in Oshawa, grew up playing minor ice hockey for the Whitby Wildcats of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA)'s Eastern AAA League.[citation needed] He played in the 2001 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with Whitby.[2] Among his minor hockey coaches was NHL and TSN broadcaster Bob McKenzie.[3] His father, Peter, coached him for the major part of his minor hockey career. After his midget season, he was selected by the Plymouth Whalers in the third round, 80th overall, of the 2003 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Priority Selection. Before joining the major junior ranks, he was assigned to the Bowmanville Eagles, a Junior A club of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), for the 2003–04 season.[citation needed]

Junior[edit]

Following his rookie season in the OHL, Neal was selected in the second round, 33rd overall, of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars.[4] Competing in his first NHL training camp, the Stars returned him to junior, where he recorded 21 goals and 58 points with Plymouth in 2005–06. Although Neal was returned again to junior following the Stars' 2006 training camp, he was signed by the club to a three-year, entry-level contract in late October 2006. He recorded a junior career-high 27 goals and 65 points over 45 games in 2006–07. During the season, he was chosen to represent the Western Conference in the 2007 OHL All-Star Game and scored a goal. He also helped Plymouth win the OHL title, scoring the championship winning goal in overtime in Game 6 against the Sudbury Wolves. He led all tournament scorers with five goals in the Memorial Cup, held in Vancouver.[5]

Professional[edit]

Dallas Stars[edit]

After turning professional for the 2007–08 season, Neal played with Dallas' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Iowa Stars. In 62 games, he scored 18 goals and 19 assists for 37 points. The next season, 2008–09, he scored his first career NHL goal in his first NHL game on October 10, 2008, against Pascal Leclaire of the Columbus Blue Jackets.[6] His first multi-point NHL game came on November 26, 2008, with a two-goal effort against the Minnesota Wild.[7] Famously, Neal's first NHL fight proved to be a memorable and quick victory. On December 18, 2008, he was challenged to a fight by Columbus forward Derick Brassard after Neal checked Blue Jacket Fedor Tyutin hard into the corner of the Columbus defensive zone in the first period. Neal obliged, and produced a gash near Brassard's left eye with a powerful right punch. Brassard quickly called the fight off, where it was later disclosed that he had dislocated his right shoulder which ended his season.[8] Five days later, Neal scored his first NHL hat-trick during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 23, 2008, in an 8–2 win.[9] His early season performance led to a nomination to the YoungStars roster for the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal.[10] He also broke the Stars' team record for goals scored by a rookie (not including the franchise's years as the Minnesota North Stars), surpassing Jussi Jokinen's record of 17 goals set in 2005–06, in a 10–2 rout of the New York Rangers on February 6, 2009.[11] He completed the campaign with 24 goals and 37 points.[citation needed]

Neal with the Penguins in 2011.

In the Stars' 2009–10 season opener, on October 3, 2009, Neal recorded Dallas' first and second goals of the season against the Nashville Predators. He improved to 55 points in his second NHL season. On September 16, 2010, just prior to the commencement of the 2010–11 season, Neal signed a two-year contract extension with the Stars worth $2.25 million in the first year and $3.5 million in the second.[12]

Pittsburgh Penguins[edit]

Leading up to the 2011 trade deadline, on February 21, Neal was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins (along with defenceman Matt Niskanen) in exchange for defenceman Alex Goligoski.[13] Neal scored his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal on April 20 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in double overtime to give Pittsburgh a 3–1 series lead.[citation needed]

On February 19, 2012, one day after scoring 30 goals for the first time in his career, Neal signed a six-year contract extension with an average annual value of $5 million.[14] He scored his second career hat-trick, and first as a Pittsburgh Penguin, in an 8–4 win against the Winnipeg Jets on March 20, 2012. Neal had a break-out season in 2011–12, finishing with 40 goals and 81 points. On May 24, 2013, he scored his first career playoff hat-trick, against the Ottawa Senators.

Neal with the Predators in the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals.

Nashville Predators[edit]

On June 27, 2014, during the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Neal was traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Patric Hörnqvist and Nick Spaling.[15] He scored his first goal with the Predators on October 17, 2014, in a 2–0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.[16]

Neal had an impressive year in 2015–16, scoring 31 goals and 58 points and setting a new Predators franchise single-season record for plus-minus with +27. In the 2016–17 season, Neal help lead the Predators to the organization's first Stanley Cup Finals appearance. The Predators faced Neal's old team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, but lost the series four games to two.[17]

Vegas Golden Knights[edit]

On June 21, 2017, Neal was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft as the Predators' unprotected player.[18] After attending the Golden Knights' first training camp, Neal secured a top-line role to open the 2017–18 season. On October 6, 2017, he scored twice in a 2–1 comeback victory over the Dallas Stars, helping the Golden Knights achieve victory in their franchise debut.[19] In 71 games for the Golden Knights' successful inaugural season, Neal had 25 goals and 19 assists, placing fourth on the club in goals. In the playoffs, Neal helped the Golden Knights claim the Western Conference title and secure his second successive appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. He contributed with 6 goals and 11 points in 20 games before losing to the Washington Capitals.[20]

Calgary Flames[edit]

After leaving Vegas as a free agent, on July 2, 2018, Neal signed a five-year, $28.75 million contract with the Calgary Flames. Neal disappointed in his season with Calgary, only scoring a total of 19 points, less than his lowest single season goal total. Neal was benched on multiple occasions during the campaign, including being healthy scratched prior to a pivotal game 5 Stanley Cup Playoffs first round matchup against the Colorado Avalanche.[21]

Edmonton Oilers[edit]

On July 19, 2019, the Flames traded Neal to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Milan Lucic and a 2020 conditional third-round pick.[22] On October 8, 2019, Neal scored four goals in a game against the New York Islanders, setting a franchise record for the most goals in the first three games of a season, with six goals.[23][24][25]

International play[edit]

Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Representing  Canada
IIHF World Championship
Silver medal – second place 2009 Switzerland
World Junior Championships
Gold medal – first place 2007 Canada

In the 2006 off-season, Neal was invited to the Canadian national junior team's summer evaluation camp. His physical presence and hard-hitting impressed Canada's coaches, and he was brought back to the team's selection camp in December 2006. His play earned him a spot on the club for the 2007 World Junior Championships in Sweden, where he helped Canada to a gold medal. Two years later, Neal moved on to Canada's men's team for the 2009 IIHF World Championship in Switzerland. He scored three points in as many contests, helping Canada to a silver medal finish in the tournament. In 2011, he again represented Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia.

Personal life[edit]

Neal has three younger brothers—Michael, Peter and Nicholas—who also play hockey.[26] Michael was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round, 149th overall, of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft;[27] Peter last played with the Knoxville Ice Bears in the Southern Professional Hockey League in 2014–15 season;[28] and Nicholas last played for the Cobourg Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 2013–14.

James Neal attended the All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ontario, where he was given the nickname "Whitby Wizard".[citation needed] Neal also has a younger sister named Rebecca.[26][29] In March 2012, he was featured on an episode of NHL 36, which followed him for 36 hours.[30]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2002–03 Whitby Wildcats Minor Midget AAA OMHA 47 18 23 41 47
2003–04 Bowmanville Eagles OPJHL 43 28 27 55 54
2003–04 Plymouth Whalers OHL 9 2 4 6 0
2004–05 Plymouth Whalers OHL 67 18 26 44 32 4 1 1 2 6
2005–06 Plymouth Whalers OHL 66 21 37 58 109 13 9 7 16 33
2006–07 Plymouth Whalers OHL 45 27 38 65 94 9 7 4 11 32
2007–08 Iowa Stars AHL 62 18 19 37 63
2008–09 Dallas Stars NHL 77 24 13 37 51
2008–09 Manitoba Moose AHL 5 4 1 5 2
2009–10 Dallas Stars NHL 78 27 28 55 64
2010–11 Dallas Stars NHL 59 21 18 39 60
2010–11 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 20 1 5 6 6 7 1 1 2 6
2011–12 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 81 40 41 81 87 5 2 4 6 12
2012–13 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 40 21 15 36 26 13 6 4 10 8
2013–14 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 59 27 34 61 26 13 2 2 4 24
2014–15 Nashville Predators NHL 67 23 14 37 57 6 4 1 5 8
2015–16 Nashville Predators NHL 82 31 27 58 65 14 4 4 8 8
2016–17 Nashville Predators NHL 70 23 18 41 35 22 6 3 9 14
2017–18 Vegas Golden Knights NHL 71 25 19 44 24 20 6 5 11 12
2018–19 Calgary Flames NHL 63 7 12 19 28 4 0 0 0 0
NHL totals 766 270 244 514 558 104 31 24 55 92

International[edit]

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2007 Canada WJC 1st, gold medalist(s) 6 0 0 0 8
2009 Canada WC 2nd, silver medalist(s) 3 1 2 3 2
2011 Canada WC 5th 6 2 3 5 10
Junior totals 6 0 0 0 8
Senior totals 9 3 5 8 12

Awards and honours[edit]

Award Year
NHL
YoungStars Game 2009
All-Star Game 2012, 2016, 2018
NHL First All-Star Team 2011–12

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 'Real Deal' James Neal". The Hockey Writers. July 4, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  2. ^ "Pee-Wee players who have reached NHL or WHA" (PDF). Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. 2018. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  3. ^ "Puck Daddy chats with Dallas' James Neal". Yahoo Sports. November 13, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  4. ^ "NHL Entry Draft Year by Year Results". National Hockey League.
  5. ^ "James Neal Stats and News". NHL.com. Retrieved October 10, 2019. He had 43 points in 37 playoff games and scored a Memorial Cup-high five goals.
  6. ^ "Nash;s OT goal gives Columbus victory at Dallas". Yahoo Sports. October 10, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  7. ^ "Stars rally, beat Wild 4–3". Yahoo Sports. November 26, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  8. ^ "James Neal v Derick Brassard". YouTube. December 18, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  9. ^ "Neal nets first career hat-trick as Stars obliterate Maple Leafs". ESPN. December 23, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  10. ^ "YoungStar Neal trained with Roberts, Foote". Dallas Stars. January 23, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  11. ^ "Stars embarrass Rangers with 10 goals". CBS Sports. February 6, 2009. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  12. ^ "Stars Agree To Terms With Neal & Niskanen". NHL.com. September 16, 2010. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  13. ^ "Penguins acquire James Neal and Matt Niskanen from Stars for Alex Goligoski". Pittsburgh Penguins. February 21, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2011.
  14. ^ "Penguins agree to contract extension with Neal". Pittsburgh Penguins. February 19, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  15. ^ "Penguins trade Neal to Predators for Hornqvist, Spaling". The Sports Network. June 27, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  16. ^ "Nashville Predators – Winnipeg Jets – October 17th, 2014". NHL.com.
  17. ^ Scheessele, Keith (July 20, 2017). "Meet the Golden Knights: James Neal". thehockeywriters.com. Retrieved March 14, 2018. That year, his second of three with Nashville, he set a franchise record with a plus/minus of +27
  18. ^ Benjamin, Cody (June 21, 2017). "Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal, Marc Methot headline Vegas' expansion draft picks". CBSSports.com. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  19. ^ Dixon, Schuyler (October 6, 2017). "Vegas Golden Knights top Dallas Stars, win in franchise debut". The Globe and Mail. Dallas. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  20. ^ Rosen, Dan. "Capitals win Stanley Cup, defeat Golden Knights in Game 5 of Final". National Hockey League. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  21. ^ "Flames sign Neal to five-year deal". The Sports Network. July 2, 2018. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  22. ^ "Edmonton Oilers trade Milan Lucic to Calgary Flames for James Neal". Sportsnet. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  23. ^ "James Neal becoming 'Real Steal' with dominant start to Oilers tenure - Sportsnet.ca". www.sportsnet.ca. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  24. ^ "Oilers' James Neal: Sets record with four-goal night". CBSSports.com. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  25. ^ "Oilers' James Neal sets franchise record with four-goal game against Islanders". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  26. ^ a b Link, Dave (February 5, 2015). "Playing hockey a family goal for Peter Neal". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  27. ^ "Q & A With Michael Neal". NHL.com. June 29, 2007. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  28. ^ "PETER NEAL". eliteprospects.com. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  29. ^ @jneal_18 (January 24, 2013). "Happy birthday 2 my favorite sister ever @rebeccaaneal. #onlyhave1 #urstillmyfav" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  30. ^ Robinson, Alan (March 6, 2012). "'NHL 36: James Neal' debuts Wednesday". NHL.com. Retrieved March 13, 2018.

External links[edit]