James Neal has yet to take the redemption route – .

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James Neal has yet to take the redemption route – .


Oilers general manager Ken Holland did not tell the player’s agent he was redeemed, although it is likely

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As the NHL buyout window opens Friday after Tampa’s Stanley Cup win over Montreal, Edmonton Oilers winger James Neal has not been told his value is not not strong enough to justify its place in the team pecking order.

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“They haven’t voiced anything yet,” Constable Pat Morris said.

Morris knows the score though. He’s also Corey Perry’s agent, so he’s already been on the redemption route when the winger was in Anaheim and the Ducks couldn’t afford the former Hart Trophy winner, which led Perry to productive stops in Dallas and Montreal, with two trips to the finals.

As Morris says of teams, “They have to balance the checkbook. “

But Oilers general manager Ken Holland did not tell Morris that Neal was being bought out, although this was likely after Holland said in May: “It is very possible,” when he was asked about redemptions in general terms.

He absolutely needs to save some money to take on free agent Zach Hyman and if he buys Neal out with his cap of $ 5.75 million for two more years, the Oilers will save $ 3.8 million. this coming season and in 2022-2023.

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They would have it on the books as dead money of $ 1.92 million through 24-25. But Holland was also part of the buyout rodeo here in 2019, when he took that route with Andrej Sekera, and they still have two years of $ 1.5 million in dead capital with the current Dallas defender.

Teams can buy players until July 27, the day before the free agent doors open, so Holland doesn’t have to make a firm decision on Neal tomorrow. But there’s a good chance he’ll do it soon enough. As Morris admits that his player “had some hiccups in his season and he has two years left.”

Neal is not a top six player. He is currently a fourth line player. He still has hands, but his feet in the five-on-five racehorse game are problematic. The buyout of Neal gives the Oilers contract space. These are the redemption facts.

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Neal has had a fantastic first month of the 2019-20 season after his trade with Milan Lucic, accumulating 11 goals on 42 shots, including eight on the power play. He scored six goals in the Oilers’ first three games, something no one else has ever done. Not Wayne Gretzky, not Jari Kurri.

But Neal broke his foot later and continued to play and finished with 19 goals. His job in Chicago’s four-game playoff ousting in the bubble here was one of the Oilers’ few bright spots on a big line with Alex Chiasson and Jujhar Khaira.

But this season, Neal contracted COVID-19 before coming to camp in January, which delayed him and then had other issues with the virus. He played nine games, then was on waivers on February 13 to make him part of the taxi team.

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He only played 29 of 56 games and scored five goals and 10 points. If he made between $ 750,000 and $ 1 million and in a role in the bottom six like Devin Shore or Tyler Ennis, fine. But Neal has grown into a fourth line player here with a first unit on the power play as a forward.

If he is redeemed, Pittsburgh could be a possibility for Neal on the cheap after playing there already.

You might see Florida redeem defenseman Keith Yandle, the resident Iron Man who has played 922 straight games, second to Doug Jarvis 964. Same with San Jose goaltender Martin Jones and Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop, who missed last season while recovering from a torn meniscus.

Last year goaltender Henrik Lundvist, who could be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and winger Bobby Ryan were bought out by the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators. So were Justin Abdelkader, who got a Stanley Cup ring in Detroit, and Kyle Turris in Nashville, with Turris ending up here where they hoped he could have filled the center hole of the third line.

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Neal, who turns 34 in September, has 294 career goals and has long been a consecutive goalscorer. He has nine career hat tricks, including just one behind Connor McDavid. Neal is in the top 10 among active players in three-goal games, while Leon Draiasitl has five hat tricks.

FROM ONE AS TO ANOTHER

Grant Fuhr watched Andrei Vasilevskiiy lead Tampa to his second consecutive Cup and he’s a huge fan.

“He’s a great goalie, very athletic and reads the game really well. He’s a guy who can make that save at the right time to consistently turn the game around,” said the former Temple Oilers goaltender. of fame, voted one of the game’s top 100 players.

It looks like what Fuhr was.

DIFFICULT TO BE MORE BLESSED

If you’re wondering why former Oilers winger Pat Maroon feels lucky to have three Stanley Cup rings in a row, Marcel Dionne, Mats Sundin, Mike Gartner and Pierre Turgeon have never even reached the final of the Cup, it doesn’t matter if you’ve won one… Maroon’s three rings (one with St. Louis, two with Tampa) bring back memories of fourth row Billy Carroll. He won three with the Islanders in the 1980s, then was claimed on waivers by the Oilers and was part of their 1984 Cup squad.

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This ‘n’ that: Everything is calm on the free agent front with Chiasson, who has spent three years (173 games) here. “He loves it there. He would like to stay. They didn’t close the door on him, ”said his agent, Morris. But the Oilers might consider a similar winger in Joel Armia for a third / fourth row free agency role… Kevin Lowe’s son Keegan was recently named the American Hockey League’s top professional hockey player, winning the Doug Messier trophy. “Exceptional leadership throughout the season that we just had,” Executive Director Larry Landon said in a statement from PHWA. Former Bakersfield Condors captain Keegan played last season for Kevin Dineen’s San Diego Gulls.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @jimmathesonnhl

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