It was the biggest trade at the actual NHL Draft – the Nashville Predators picking up scoring forward James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins, led by new general manager Jim Rutherford, were looking to change things up. The Predators, well they get someone capable of scoring, having put up a career-high 40 goals only two years ago, but with a reputation, having been suspended three times in his young career. Neal has acknowledged that he, too, needs to change for the better.
It’s an interesting look into how the deal, which included winger Patric Hornqvist and center Nick Spaling. going back to Pittsburgh, came about.
Although, according to The Denver Post, the Penguins were also talking to the Colorado Avalanche.
From The Denver Post:
The interesting part for Avs fans: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is shown telling Poile that he “has a deal for No. 23″ in his back pocket already, but that he might re-arrange things if the deal with Nashville goes through. The holder of the No. 23 pick at the draft? That would be the Colorado Avalanche.
So, it’s clear that the Avs were talking trade with the Penguins at the draft before the Avs wound up keeping the No. 23 pick and the Preds did their deal with Rutherford.
Oh, those draft-day deals. A lot of the wheeling and dealing on that day was done by the Vancouver Canucks, although as it pertains to the Neal trade, things could’ve been very different for Pittsburgh, Nashville and Colorado.