Florida Panthers: Potentially signing veteran sniper James Neal in 2018

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 11: James Neal
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 11: James Neal /

With one year remaining on James Neal’s current contract at $5 million dollars, the Florida Panthers should certainly consider emptying their pockets for the former all star winger.

Following a Stanley Cup Finals loss, the Nashville Predators surprisingly decided to suddenly part ways with the talented Canadian by leaving him unprotected for the expansion draft. The Las Vegas Golden Knights ultimately swiped the 29-year-old for the purpose of utilising James Neal as their primary scoring option. In the 2016-17 campaign, James accumulated a respectable line of 23G and 18A for 41 points in 70 games.

Neal often struggled to discover sustained success, as he battled multiple injuries causing him to become unavailable for 12 regular season games. However, James was an important contributor to Nashville’s heroic run to the finals. In 22 playoff games, Neal had a slash line of 6G and 3A for 9 points.

When healthy, James Neal is fully capable of being an ultra-productive winger. He was named an All Star in the 2015-16 season, where he registered an astounding 31G and 27A for 58 points in 82 games played.

Neal is a model of consistency, as he’s scored 20G in every season since entering the league in the 2008-09 season. James would instantly provide an offensively challenged Panthers club with an impactful power play threat. With Neal’s dangerous wrister at his disposal, he seamlessly is able to beat extraordinary goaltending on numerous occasions and critical moments in hockey games.

Having Neal on the top 6 would greatly help take additional pressure off of Aleksander Barkov,  Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck . Our skilled forwards can simply distribute the puck to Neal instead of attempting to create an abundance of scoring opportunities by themselves(provides flexibility). Therefore, the assist count of the aforementioned Panthers forwards would drastically increase because of Neal’s ability to finish when depended upon.

Next: Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau to become more of a scoring threat

The Panthers should highly take into consideration the possibility of signing the former 40G scorer when the anticipated free agency period arrives in 2018.