The Vegas Golden Knights selected James Neal in the NHL Expansion Draft. The news of the Predators losing one of their assistant captains came during the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.
The news doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. Neal was one of the biggest names left unprotected not only by Nashville but around the NHL for Vegas’ picking. Neal was one of 28 total players left unprotected by the Predators among the likes Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, Colton Sissons and Pontus Aberg to name a few.
There were multiple reports suggesting General Manager David Poile was in talks with the Golden Knights’ General Manager George McPhee to strike some sort of deal to keep Vegas away from Nashville’s highest regarded player, but it’s very clear McPhee wanted Neal.
What’s very interesting about this is that TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported earlier on Wednesday that “it remains to be seen how long he’s there” meaning he could be flipped to another team in the league for assets.
Nevertheless, the Preds are going to miss Neal. He had 136 points (77 G, 59 A) in his 219 regular season games with Nashville. He was a huge piece of Nashville’s power play as well. It will be interesting to see which direction the Preds go to replace his production.