Now that James Neal is a Nashville Predators forward, goalies in Tennessee are sure happy to call him a teammate.
Neal hit the ice in Nashville for unofficial workouts and, as Josh Cooper of The Tennessean shared, goalie Carter Hutton is happy he won’t have to face him outside of practice.
“I’m happy he’s on our side now,” Hutton joked. “A lot of guys give you more information. You can kind of read where pucks are going. With him, it’s hard to pick up his stick blade and where it goes from there.”
There’s a reason why Neal is a former 40-goal scorer in the league and his wicked shot is a big one. Last season, he put up 27 goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins but was traded to the Predators this summer to help give them something they haven’t had since Paul Kariya took to the ice in Music City – a bonafide goal-scoring threat.
While the Preds will get their logjam of centers, both new and incumbent, figured out – Neal arrives as, ahem, the real deal when it comes to putting the puck in the net.
If Neal takes to new coach Peter Laviolette’s style right away, fans in Nashville will like it, love it, want some more of it often this season.
The Calgary Flames found some defensive reinforcements for the upcoming season.
The Flames signed former Oilers and Bruins defenseman Corey Potter to a one-year, two-way deal. Last season, he spent time with both the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins playing in a total of 19 games with both teams.
Potter, 30, joins a Flames team in need of solid defensive help. With Mark Giordano leading the way, the rest of the blue line corps is a bit dicey. Ladislav Smid, T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, and Deryk Engelland round out what would appear to be Calgary’s top-six on defense.
While that crew could use more help, the thing they need most is depth and Potter will help out there especially with the rest of the depth hopefuls being young like Tyler Wotherspoon and Patrick Sieloff.
Potter’s best season came with the Oilers in 2011-12 when he had four goals and 21 points in 62 games. He’s played in 52 total games in the two seasons since then.
Ray Whitney is one of a handful of veteran players that has yet to sign on with a new team. At 42 years old and having been in the NHL since 1992, it might be a little tricky for him to score a deal with a team.
If that sounds like the kind of situation that would bother a player that’s been around as long as he has, think again. Pierre LeBrun at ESPN.com caught up with Whitney to find out he’s not exactly stressing out about not having a new contract.
“I’m in shape, I’m skating, but I’m not too worried,” Whitney said. “There’s obviously limitations to where I would go, but I’m not out there searching for anything, either.”
Whitney said he won’t keep skating for much longer as the clock ticks down towards the start of training camp – now two weeks away – and his interest in playing wanes more as time rolls on.
Last season with the Dallas Stars, Whitney had nine goals and 23 assists in 69 games – his lowest full-season point output since 2003-04 with the Detroit Red Wings.
If this is the end of the road, it’s been a heck of a run that’s taken him into parts of three decades and netted him a Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.