According to a report from TSN analyst and NHL insider Bob McKenzie, the offseason’s best available remaining unrestricted free agent is officially off the market.
Veteran winger James Neal has reportedly signed a five year agreement with the Calgary Flames wirth $5.75 million per season.
CGY and James Neal were working late into the night on a five year deal. Assuming it got done — it was headed in that direction but nothing official as of yet — it will be an AAV of around $5.75M.
Wow… who saw this coming!?
McKenzie's counterpart over at Sporstnet Elliotte Friedman has also confirmed McKenzie's original report regarding the Neal signing.
The Real Deal in CAL is approximately $5.75M AAV over 5.
Neal had been rumored to be negotiating an extension with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, but evidently those talks fell apart.
The 30 year old winger had 25 goals and 44 points in 71 games with the Golden Knights last season and is the second high profile UFA to leave the team this offseason, following forward David Perron. With Neal and Perron both gone, the Golden Knights can wave goodbye to 110 points from their lineup. Ouch.
With the Neal addition, the offseason makeover of the Calgary Flames continues. Since firing former head coach Glen Gulutzan and hiring new head coach Bill Peters, the Flames have undergone considerable changes and now boast a more offensive lineup heading into 2018-19. Not only have the Flames swapped out defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forward Micheal Ferland for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, but now they've added another 25 goal scorer in Neal. Not bad. Not bad at all.
As for the Golden Knights, they've now lost Neal and Perron and, of course, they swung out on top free agent John Tavares who elected to sign a massive seven year, $77 million deal with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs on the opening day of free agency. With Neal now off the market, the last available free agents forwards remaining are Patrick Maroon, Joe Thornton, Rick Nash and Mike Cammalleri. Of that group, Maroon seems to be the most coveted.