The Nashville Predators will get a big boost on offense next season after acquiring James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Pittsburgh will bring back Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling in a two-for-one deal, according to the Predators' Twitter account:
BREAKING NEWS: James Neal traded to the @PredsNHL for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) June 28, 2014
Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette provides Penguins GM Jim Rutherford's take on the trade:
Rutherford, on trading Neal: "We were just trying to change the mix of our team a little bit and get a little bit different type player."— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) June 28, 2014
Rutherford, on cap space: "By doing this, it gives us a better chance to do something on July 1.That may be suitable for [Malkin], too,"— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) June 28, 2014
Rutherford, on Malkin losing his RW, James Neal, with whom he had chemistry: "You’re always concerned about that with your top players."— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) June 28, 2014
Rutherford, on Hornqvist: "Hornqvist plays with an edge. Goes to the net, works the corners."— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) June 28, 2014
Neal only played 59 games last season, but he still finished fourth on the team with 61 points. He totaled 27 goals and 34 assists in his sixth year in the league. His best season came in 2011-12, when he amassed 40 goals and 41 assists for the Penguins.
While Neal had been the subject of trade rumors for much of the offseason, the player denied he requested a trade, saying he loved playing in Pittsburgh:
All of these rumors couldn't be further from the truth. I love being a Pittsburgh Penguin. I hope to remain a Penguin and win as a Penguin.— James Neal (@jneal_18) May 23, 2014
Despite this claim, the 26-year-old forward has been shipped out of town.
Meanwhile, the Predators will send Hornqvist and Spaling to the Penguins, two forwards who combined for 85 points last season. They will hope to improve a squad that barely missed the postseason a year ago.
Ryan Porth of 102.5 The Game believes this is a good move for Nashville:
#Preds will certainly miss Hornqvist & Spaling but they just got a bonafide top-6 forward w/o unloading No. 11 or adding a lot of salary.— Ryan Porth (@PorthGame) June 28, 2014
Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo Sports agrees with the move despite the risk:
Neal has his warts, but the Predators just got themselves a goal-scorer.— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) June 28, 2014
Additionally, Willy Daunic of 102.5 The Game notes that Spaling likely was not staying anyway:
Spaling is an RFA who is going to get a good raise. Not sure #Preds were going to sign him. So it's really Neal for Hornqvist.— Willy Daunic (@WillyD1025) June 28, 2014
This makes it an even better move for the Predators to gain some value on a lost cause, bringing in a player who can be a star when healthy.
With the two sides bringing in players who can help next season, this appears to be a fair trade for both teams that will please everyone involved.
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