Did Pittsburgh Penguins winger James Neal asked to be traded? The answer differs depending on who you listen to.
Late Thursday night, several reports surfaced indicating that right wing James Neal asked General Manager Ray Shero for a trade midway through the 2013-2014 season. Neal, who has become the subject of some pretty serious trade rumors since Pittsburgh’s season ended a few weeks ago, denied the claim.
Shortly after the reports surface, Neal took to Twitter to dispel the trade rumor myths himself.
All of these rumors couldn’t be further from the truth. I love being a Pittsburgh Penguin. I hope to remain a Penguin and win as a Penguin.
— James Neal (@jneal_18) May 23, 2014
Whether he asked to be traded or not, Neal’s days a a Penguin are numbered. A top-six shake up has been a long time coming, and Neal is the perfect place to start.
For one, letting go of Neal would free up over five million dollars in cap space, should they choose to go the free agency route with his replacement(s).
What’s more, Neal is a perennial 25 + goal scoring winger with 40 goal potential. His value would command at least two decent, serviceable bottom-six forwards to augment Pittsburgh’s top-heavy roster.
He’s an elite sniper who plays well with center Evgeni Malkin, however his tendency to take bad penalties, especially while on the power play, has driven Pens fans crazy since his arrival in 2011, and rumors about his detrimental presence in the room have also soured Pittsburgh on the idea of keeping Neal around.
Make no mistake about it, James Neal will not be a Pittsburgh Penguin next year, rumor or not.
The return they get from Neal will likely be a huge factor on their depth at forward going into next year, as well as a point of consideration for Penguins management on who else will be traded in the offseason.