Why not? Since entering the league in 2008, Neal has scored at least 20 goals in each of his nine seasons, hitting the 40-goal mark in 2011-12 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But after coming up two wins shy of a Stanley Cup this spring, Neal was left unprotected by the Predators.
Predators general manager David Poile had reportedly been in talks with Vegas GM George McPhee, but a deal couldn’t be achieved.
“With how well we played in the playoffs, I’d certainly like to bring everybody back, but the prices [to make a deal with Vegas] were very high,” Poile told the Predators website.
“[McPhee] was looking for younger players or high draft picks, and at the end of the day, I just felt that we had to do what the Expansion Draft was set out to do and that was to lose a player. In this case, we lost James Neal and that’s a pretty big price to pay.”
Neal has one more year left on his six-year contract that has an annual cap hit of $5 million, before he’s a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.
Nashville has about $22.7 million in cap space, per CapFriendly, but five pending restricted free agents — Austin Watson, Frederick Gaudreau, Pontus Aberg and most notably Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson — in need of contracts. In Arvidsson’s case, he’s due for a significant raise from the $640,000 he made in NHL salary last season, in which he scored 31 goals and 61 points.
“James had a much bigger contract and he only had one year left before he was an unrestricted free agent. We didn’t have any negotiations, but there was no guarantees that we would be able to keep him. It really was a business decision. It was as simple as that,” Poile the Tennessean.
The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Christian Djoos to a two-year, $1.3 million contract.
It’s a two-way deal in 2017-18, and a one-way deal the following season.
Djoos, 22, is expected to push for an NHL spot next season, along with Madison Bowey and possibly Tyler Lewington.
Djoos, a seventh-round pick in 2012, had 13 goals and 45 assists in 66 games for AHL Hershey this past season.
It was his second full season in the AHL.
Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL will look to enforce slashing penalties more next season.
Following the league’s board of governors meeting, Bettman said pointless slashes to players’ hands will be called more. Ottawa’s Marc Methot and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were among the players to miss time last season with hand injuries from slashes.
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Here. We. Go.
Van Riemsdyk was among 15 defensemen taken by the Golden Knights in Wednesday’s expansion draft, however, general manager George McPhee made a point of saying that, as a result of having this sudden surplus at the position, he was going to have to move some of those blue liners.
McPhee has been busy over the past few days, making deals with a number of teams ahead making his expansion selections, stockpiling draft picks, including three in the top 15 of the first round.
More to come.