All 30 teams released their lists of protected players from the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft on Sunday (which you can view here). Among the notable players left unprotected are Eric Staal, Sami Vatanen, Marc-André Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault, to name a few.
But one player who makes a lot of sense for the Golden Knights is Nashville Predators winger James Neal, who Nashville was forced to leave unprotected in order to retain their deep core of defensemen. The 29-year-old forward is coming off an impressive run with the Preds and would immediately provide Vegas with a top-tier sniper in its inaugural season.
As noted by Neal in an article he wrote for The Players’ Tribune in 2015, his job is to score goals. And he’s done a pretty good job of that over the course of his career. He has never scored less than 20 goals in a season during his nine years in the NHL and is only two years removed from a 31-goal campaign.
Adding Neal could also benefit Vegas down the road. Neal is set to enter the final year of his contract next season. If the Golden Knights pick him up and he plays like his usual self, he could be a trade asset. Goal scorers are in high demand and a player like Neal could garner a significant return from a team desperate for offensive playmakers.
Regardless of whether he’d be a trade chip or a long-term asset, the Golden Knights would be wise to take a hard look at Neal while putting together their roster for the 2017-18 season.
Should the Golden Knights take James Neal in the expansion draft?
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