Blog Entry

Pens re-sign Neal for six seasons, $30 million

Posted on: February 19, 2012 10:26 am
Edited on: February 19, 2012 11:12 am
Neal was given a big reason to smile by Pens GM Ray Shero. (US Presswire)

By Brian Stubits

While most teams are busy shoring up their rosters for the remainder of this season with the trade deadline just over a week away, the Pittsburgh Penguins have taken a big step toward shoring up their roster for the next half decade.

The Penguins announced on Sunday morning that they have re-signed breakout forward James Neal to a six-year extension worth $30 million. That's a cool $5 million per season. (As a side note, I just love how the Penguins release this information, it will get out either way, might as well control it.)

"I love everything about what goes on here and how we play the game," Neal said. "I just couldn’t see myself anywhere else."

Acquired from the Stars at last year's trade deadline along with Matt Niskanen for Alex Goligosky, Neal has taken his game to a higher level with the Pens. Not to say that he wasn't a good prospect already. By the time this season began, he already had 73 goals before turning 24 years old.

But this season he has already eclipsed his career bests in goals with 30 and points (56) while he's just two away from matching his best assist tally of 28. He was a late fill-in for the All-Star Game roster, his first such honor.

"As we've gotten to know Neal over past year, he really fits with our group," general manager Ray Shero told the team's website. "It's really difficult to find players like this. Neal has size, uncanny release, heavy shot, goes to the net hard, can skate. There's a lot to like even beyond the 30 goals."

I actually really like this deal for the Penguins. Some might think it's a leap of faith to give Neal $5 million amidst his first 30-goal season of his career, but he's been in the mid-to-high 20s in all of his previous seasons and he was still just a pup playing in Dallas. It's not a bold prediction to say Neal is on his way to being a consistent 30-goal scorer.

What it does mean for the Penguins is that they aren't going to have much maneuvering room this summer and next season, as it stands now. According to Cap Geek, the Pens already have $59,566,667 committed to next season's payroll. If the cap were to stay the same -- and who knows with CBA negotiations looming -- that leaves them less than $5 million. Meanwhile, Steve Sullivan, Arron Asham, Richard Park, Cal O'Reilly, Niskanen and Brent Johnson are all free agents of some kind.

But that doesn't mean that I dislike this signing at all. I think it's a very reasonable amount of money for the Penguins, actually. A simple projection out shows this season isn't likely to be a fluke. A $5 million salary for a potential 40-goal scorer is practically a bargain in the NHL these days.

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Since: Feb 20, 2012
Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:15 am
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Since: Feb 19, 2011
Posted on: February 19, 2012 7:48 pm

Pens re-sign Neal for six seasons, $30 million

Go Neal! One of the best things to happen to the Pens in a long time. Nice to see they value his efforts and abilities :) Still miss Goli though :( but he seems to have made a place for himself in Dallas...

Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:50 pm

Pens re-sign Neal for six seasons, $30 million

Glad to see this happen.  Been a big fan of his since he first joined team.  He wasn't scoring goals last year, but the guy was working hard on every single shift.  To bad they can't get rid of Martin, and Michalek's contracts.  2 highest paid d men on the team playing like they have this year is brutal.  The really awful part of it is they are both signed through the 2014/15 season.  Niskanen is really the only guy on the big team I'd like to see them try to keep.  Problem is Martin, and Michalek's contracts probably mean Niskanen will be odd man out. 

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:30 pm

Pens re-sign Neal for six seasons, $30 million

It was a great trade when they picked Neal up and it's an even better contract extension.  As long as he stays healthy a 5 million dollar cap hit is a good deal in my opinion, the guy can put the puck in the net.   And he's still just a kid...... only going to get better as time goes on.

Since: Nov 18, 2007
Posted on: February 19, 2012 3:18 pm

Pens re-sign Neal for six seasons, $30 million

galf-  Slight roll of the dice that has to be taken

Since: Feb 19, 2012
Posted on: February 19, 2012 2:56 pm
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Since: Mar 5, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2012 1:29 pm

Pens re-sign Neal for six seasons, $30 million

Great signing, really good value (assuming continued production).....happy for former Plymouth Whaler James Neal. Congrats to him and the Pens.

Since: Apr 11, 2008
Posted on: February 19, 2012 1:01 pm

Pens re-sign Neal for six seasons, $30 million

Sullivan is what 37, 38? There'll be another skilled vet at a bargain price.

I like Asham but a history of injuries means a lowball offer and he'll probably walk.

Park also qualifies in the more mature age group, all of whom will have to accept low deals or walk.

Cal O'Reilly has done nothing and his pass first mentality doesn't fit in with a team that already has two playmakers.

I like Niskanen but there's a couple of really good youngsters coming through like Depres, unless he accepts a cap room fit offer, he's gone.

Johnson's been terrible this year, not helped by an awful (Martin) or injured defence.

The two contracts/pieces of business that aren't helping the Pens and make me think there's an outbound trade in the works is the contract for Martin at $5m a year and TK's $2-2.5m. Max Talbot was the gritty winger who could score we should have kept and at a cheaper price than one-move TK. 

Since: Jan 17, 2012
Posted on: February 19, 2012 12:48 pm

Pens re-sign Neal for six seasons, $30 million

Neal has been very productive and is a good fit for the Pens.  Sid Who?  The Pens have played more without Crosby than with him and this deal reflects the Pens faith that Sid will be coming back, NOT!!!!  Sid can't remain symptom free and Asham, with a concussion, is back after missing 13 games.  Great signing for Neal just hope he doesn't get caught in that trap where you let down after you sign a great contract that guarantees security.

Since: Nov 27, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2012 12:41 pm

Pens re-sign Neal for six seasons, $30 million

Good move by the Pens. I knew when they got him that he would be a big time sniper. He has such a fast release and he is a lot more accurate this year. The way he is playing now is amazing and he will only get better with time.

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