Trade Grades: James Neal to Nashville 

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
9:42
PM ET

The deal

Predators get: James Neal

Penguins get: Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling


Nashville Predators: B

Predators GM David Poile needed to upgrade his offense under new head coach Peter Laviolette, and landing James Neal certainly does it. He immediately becomes one of the most prolific scorers the team has had.

In 199 games with the Penguins, Neal averaged 0.45 goals per game, which works out to be 37 goals over the course of an 82-game season. Part of that production is the benefit that comes with playing with Evgeni Malkin, with Sidney Crosby drawing the toughest matchups. The Predators don’t currently have the kind of playmaking center that Neal thrives with, and we’ll find out just how much offense he can generate without one.

Before playing in Pittsburgh, he played a lot with Brad Richards in Dallas, another high-end passer. Also, this is the second time that Neal -- who is a 40-goal scorer -- has been traded before the age of 27, which raises the question as to why teams are so willing to move him. There were concerns about his hockey IQ in Dallas, and it still shows in the form of unwise penalties.

He also wasn’t particularly productive during the playoffs this last season, scoring just twice in 13 games before the Penguins were knocked out by the Rangers. That said, the price Nashville paid for Neal was less than you’d expect for a 40-goal scorer.