James Neal
James Neal
32-Year-Old Right WingRW
Edmonton Oilers
2019 Fantasy Outlook
2018-19 was easily the worst season of Neal's career. The veteran forward only managed to total seven goals and 19 points in 63 games with the Flames after racking up 25 goals and 44 points with Vegas in 2017-18. He was, however, at least partially dragged down by an abnormally low 5.0 shooting percentage -- Neal had posted a 12.1 mark during his previous 10 seasons -- and his third-line deployment, which led to him averaging a career-low 14:57 of ice time per game. The Ontario native was traded to the Oilers in exchange for Milan Lucic in July, so he'll be suiting up for the sixth different club of his career in 2019-20. A return to form is definitely possible, but it's important to remember that he'll be 32 years old at the start of the campaign. Injuries are also a concern, as he's missed at least 11 games in each of the past three seasons. That said, if the Ontario native is paired with Connor McDavid or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on one of Edmonton's scoring lines, he could easily eclipse the 20-goal,40-point threshold this year, providing fantasy owners with some serious value in the later rounds of drafts. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a five-year, $28.75 million contract with the Flames in July of 2018.
Strikes for opening goal
RWEdmonton Oilers
October 18, 2019
Neal scored a goal on four shots in Friday's 2-1 win over the Red Wings.
Neal's up to nine goals in eight games this year, an incredible pace for any player, let alone one coming off of a seven-goal campaign. Most notably, it was his third even-strength goal of the campaign. The winger has produced 27 shots and continues to enjoy top-six usage that is serving him quite well.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Neal signed a five-year, $28.75 million contract with the Flames in the offseason after a great run with the expansion Golden Knights. The pesky forward recorded 25 goals and 44 points in 71 regular-season games before adding six goals and 11 points in 20 postseason contests. The 30-year-old winger has reached the 20-goal mark in each of his 10 NHL seasons and should slide right onto Calgary's top line alongside Johnny Gaudreau and centre Sean Monahan or play on the second line with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk. Neal is a proven goal-scorer and will be moving into a prominent role with the Flames. Calgary is much improved entering 2018-19, and Neal should be in for another productive campaign playing alongside some talented young players.
After scoring 136 points over three seasons in Nashville (an average of 45 points per season), Neal was left unprotected in the expansion draft, which resulted in him being snapped up by the Golden Knights. It’s not entirely surprising to see him leave the Predators, as last season was his worst in Music City -- his point total dropped by 17 to just 41, and he finished with a nine-year low in rating at minus-10 on a team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals (no thanks to Neal, who managed nine points and a minus-8 in 22 playoff games). Still, Neal enters his age-30 season with a strong track record -- he’s scored at least 20 goals in each of his nine NHL seasons and has topped 40 points six times, with a high-water mark of 81 points as a Penguin back in 2011-12. He’s expected to open the season on the Knights’ top line alongside fellow veteran David Perron and WHL import Vadim Shipachyov, which should lead to an increase in ice time from the 17:42 he averaged last year, but it’s unwise to expect a major scoring spike, as the Knights aren't expected to be much of an offensive powerhouse their first year in the league. His shot volume and goal-scoring ability will keep him relevant, but don't draft Neal looking for a return to his glory days.
Neal had a respectable 2015-16 season – his second as a Predator – with 58 points in 82 games. That’s not a bad result by most players’ standards, but it’s certainly not what fantasy owners became used to seeing from him in Pittsburgh, where he skated with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (178 points in 179 games over three seasons). While recent history might cause most fantasy owners to assume Neal’s days of point-per-game production are long gone, keep in mind that the sniper was on fire over the final quarter of last season, notching 21 points in the Preds’ last 19 regular-season games. That had a lot to do with him finally finding chemistry with Ryan Johansen, who came to the Preds from Columbus via trade in January. If he and Johansen (likely accompanied by Filip Forsberg) can rekindle that magic in 2016-17, look out. The Preds should also get an offensive boost from the newly acquired P.K. Subban. Bottom line, he has plenty of upside this season, so don’t be afraid to take a chance on him in the early rounds of your fantasy drafts.
Despite missing 15 games, Neal was still a force near the net in his first season with the Predators, scoring 23 times in 67 games. While his point total dipped to 37 after he scored at more than a point-per-game clip in his final year with Pittsburgh, Neal still fired 221 shots on goal and delivered in the clutch with six game-winning tallies. Nashville relies on a balanced attack -- eight different players hit the 15-goal mark in 2014-15 and no single player surpassed 63 points -- which raises Neal's floor but limits his ceiling. Neal might not end up being a point-per-game player in Nashville like he was in Pittsburgh, but even in a rather down season, he demonstrated that he's still capable of lighting the lamp 20 to 25 times, along with providing strong PIM and plus/minus totals.
After scoring 88 goals and 178 points with Pittsburgh over the past three seasons, Neal effectively becomes the Predators’ top offensive option this season under new head coach Peter Laviolette. Neal has four years remaining on the six-year, $30 million contract he originally signed with the Pens, which makes him very affordable for the Preds, especially he’s been scoring at roughly a point-per-game clip over the past three seasons. However, from a fantasy perspective, a significant portion of his appeal has been lost now that he will no longer be suiting up with superstars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. That said, we still think a 60-point season is well within his reach, so feel free to draft accordingly.
Goals. Neal's goal is to score. Nothing more, nothing less. The winger notched 40 in 80 games two seasons ago and 21 in 40 contests last year. He also led the NHL with 18 power-play markers in 2011-12 and finished tied for third with nine a season ago. Neal missed eight games with a concussion. He also shifted wings to accommodate Jarome Iginla, a move that never really worked out. Neal, who has struggled to score whenever Evgeni Malkin has been out of the lineup, continues to be one of the league's elite snipers.
Neal was one of but four NHL players to pot 40 goals in 2011-12. He clicked with Evgeni Malkin from the get-go, scoring the Pens' first goal of the season off a power-play set up by Geno. His 18 power-play goals led the league while his 81-point total was good for seventh. Factor in 329 shots, 87 penalty minutes as well as 108 hits and it's easy to see why Neal's fantasy value is higher than ever. The power forward had a penchant for streakiness up until last season, but then again, he never had teammates like Malkin and Sidney Crosby to help alleviate those concerns in Dallas. Asking for back-to-back 40 goal seasons might be a little much, but there's no reason not expect another 30-plus tallies from Neal.
Neal hopes to wipe his slate clean heading into 2011-12 after a disastrous mid-season start with Pittsburgh last winter. Always a streaky scorer, Neal picked up 21 goals in 59 games with Dallas before netting just one score in 20 games with the Pens. He's only 24 and is scheduled to play alongside Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin at times. With less pressure on Neal to produce, one can expect a season in which the power forward returns to 25-30 goal production.
Neal followed up a nice rookie campaign with another solid season (27G, 28A), playing on Dallas' top line. He recorded just two tallies with the man advantage after sticking 9 power-play goals as a rookie, so there's room to improve in his third full season. His lack of assists will limit his overall point production, but there's a 30-goal, 60-point season within easy reach.
Neal netted 24 goals in his rookie season despite a brief stint in the minors after making the team out of camp. He led the Stars with nine PPGs, though his play away from the pucks needs refining. A full year under his belt, Neal could approach the 60-point level this season.
Neal graduated from juniors play and had a nice pro debut with 37 points in 62 games. He lead all skaters with nine points in the recently completed Traverse City tournament and enters camp with a chance to win a roster spot with a solid camp. Brenden Morrow, the player Neal if often compared too, made a similiar jump into the NHL.
Neal enters the 2007-08 season as Dallas' best prospect after a sensational year in the Ontario Hockey League. He's a long shot to break camp with the team, but a mid-season promotion to the NHL after a stop in the minors isn't out of the question. The comparisions to Brenden Morrow are good ones when projection what type of player he could become.
Has shown a good nose for the net during his junior career. Figures to graduate to the AHL in a year or two.
Tall and skinny (6'3" and 180 lbs), Neal has the offensive talent to be a power forward in the NHL. He has great character and a great attitude to go along with strong offensive instincts, but his skating could use some help. Still, he managed 44 points in 67 games as a rookie in Plymouth (OHL) and is poised to be an even stronger contributor for the Whalers in 2005-2006.
More Fantasy News
Finds first assist
RWEdmonton Oilers
October 17, 2019
Neal posted an assist and two shots in Wednesday's 6-3 win over the Flyers.
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Power-play maestro strikes again
RWEdmonton Oilers
October 14, 2019
Neal scored a power-play goal in a 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks on Monday.
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Matches last year's goal total
RWEdmonton Oilers
October 11, 2019
Neal scored a power-play goal in Thursday's 4-3 shootout win over the Devils.
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Sets record with four-goal night
RWEdmonton Oilers
October 8, 2019
Neal scored four goals, two of them on the power play, in Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Islanders.
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Nabs first two goals with new club
RWEdmonton Oilers
October 6, 2019
Neal scored a pair of power-play goals on his four shots and was minus-1 in a 6-4 win over the Kings on Saturday night.
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