The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded right winger James Neal, a six time 20 goal scorer who topped 40 goals in 2011-12. Neal who has such great chemistry with Evgeni Malkin will be taken his elite sniper ability to the Nashville Predators.
“We were just trying to change the mix of our team and get a little different type of player,” General manager Jim Rutherford said.
But the Penguins didn’t give Neal up for nothing as they will be receiving a four time 20 goal scorer in Patric Hornqvist and forward Nick Spaling. Hornqvist scored 22 goals and had 31 assists for 53 points in 76 games in 2013-14. Spaling had 32 points, including 13 goals, in 71 games last season. He has 40 goals and 84 points in 297 NHL games, all with Nashville.
“Hornqvist plays at the net, goes to the net, works the corners,” Rutherford said. “We like Hornqvist a lot. We think he’s a complete player, an all-around player, a player that plays with an edge.”
Nick Spaling on the other hand is a rugged forward who can play all three forward positions. He will add grit and battle to the Penguins’ bottom-6 forwards.
“Character, good dressing room guy,” Rutherford said. “It gives us more balance in our forwards.”
The Penguins save $800K in salary in this trade which Rutherford will have to use to find another winger to play with Malkin and hope the one that they bring in can get the chemistry that came so easy with him and Neal.
The bottom line is the Penguins upper management are making a statement that things are going to change. They are building a team with the type of players they want. The type of players that have grit and character. The type of players that can help them in the playoffs.