Report: Flames sign James Neal ($5.75m, 5 years)

The Flames are continuing their aggressive offseason of change by adding one of the biggest names on the UFA market. Although not official yet, many are reporting that the Flames have signed UFA winger James Neal to a five-year, $5.75M contract.

There’s no official details on the contract just yet, but there doesn’t appear to be any indication of a no-move/no-trade clause being given out.

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The Flames looking at Neal made a lot of sense, as discussed in his UFA profile. Neal is coming off a 25-goal, 19-assist season with the Vegas Golden Knights. He has scored at least 21 goals in every season in the NHL, making his name as a consistent and effective winger throughout four different stops in his career. Neal has been a Stanley Cup runner-up the past two seasons, finishing just short with the Nashville Predators and the Vegas Golden Knights. He’ll turn 31 in September, but there doesn’t seem to be any hint of him slowing down just yet.

This signing leaves the team with about $12.8M in cap space with nine RFAs to deal with, including Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. You can probably expect a few more moves.


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  • Mickey O

    This is the wrong deal, at the wrong time – even if Mike Smith turns into Patrick Roy overnight.

    There is another far more pressing need that has to be addressed, but that ship may have already sailed.

      • Raoul Duke

        Mickey wanted dearly to sign Reaves and punch more faces. Even though he did little to stop Tom Wilson and the rest of the Capitals from running the Knights’ show in the cup final.

        • Mickey O

          It seems that Treliving really wanted Reaves too, but bailed. McPhee got a bargain and matched the dollars offered by other teams with a shorter term. He likely would have gone higher too.

          What is plan B for an enforcer on the Flames now, because you do need one. Plan A was for more important than signing an ageing winger when this team has unknown goaltending and a young defensive core.

      • Mickey O

        Big picture, and someone’s actual worth to a Team. Treliving could have had the best at his craft and would not have to worry about toughness.

        Instead of hoping the new guy he brings in is tough enough.

    • Mickey O

      It is, “we have him on our team” euphoria taking hold.

      I actually like James Neal as well, just not this deal. Five years was going to be the least amount of term he was going to sign for.

      If Neal was somehow in Edmonton, everyone would be cracking up that Chiarelli paid too much for the guy.

    • Seabass

      This deal is very unlike Brouwer’s in that Neal has consistently scored and still scored 25 goals in only 71 games last year. He also did that starting the year with a just repaired broken hand that was much less than 100%. Finally, his underlying numbers are much better.

      I believe Stone plus Rittich still get moved to Ottawa. Frolik and contract are very tempting for other teams, so i think he’s dealt this summer. Still sign Shore. I still think Lehner will sign with The Flames. Brouwer’s buyout will be next year to sign Byng.


      Johnny – Monny – Byng/Neal
      Byng/Neal – Backlund – Lindholm
      Bennett – Janks – Ryan
      Mangi – Shore/Lazar – Brouwer/Czarnik/Foo/Lazar

      Gio – Brodie
      Hanifin – Hamonic
      Kulak – Anderson


  • Skylardog

    Not sure what I think here. I think he can score and we needed that badly. I also doubt that he has the legs to be a top 6 forward 2 to 3 years from now.

    5v5, Neal was a 17 goal 12 assist, 29 point player, 1.75 points per 60 and now has a $5.75 cap hit for 5 years.

    5v5, Ferland was 14 goals, 20 assists, 34 points and 2.05 points per 60 playing on the top line that appeared to have had some serious injuries effecting their play, all for $1.75 plus a raise coming, likely one that would have been in the same $5.75 if he stayed on the top line here (and injuries were not a factor).

    Then there is the age factor, a 31 year old on 5 years vs a 26 year old on one more year that we certainly could have signed to $5.75 mid season if he was here and on the first line.

    Can Neal play on the fist line and score at better than 2.2 points/60, and do it for 5 years?

    Missing Ferly already

    • canadian1967

      Ferland has injury issues (several concussions) and add in the ravages of addiction to your calculations.
      Neal is a great skater, so even if he spends the last year in the bottom 6 he will still be a useful player with a scorers touch.

      • WidemansAnger

        Ferland is recovering from addiction not “ravaged” by his addiction. His recongnition of a weakness and willingness to address it takes courage and a high level of self improvement. This should be seen as a Strength not as weakness you are eluding to. Most times when a person recovers and addresses their demons they become more motivated. On that note I am glad Ferland is home and Neal is in, Ferlands play was inconsistent and was also hit and miss on the heart and hustle. Neal is going to be solid every night.

        • canadian1967

          Good on him for succeeding.
          He started drinking in his early teens, physiologically this will have affected his brain and add in his concussions and this is a young man with serious brain trauma.
          Even in a PC world just because someone has quit drinking you can state facts while applauding him for quitting his addiction doesn’t mean there are no effects left from it.

  • C Watson

    I see this as a deal that will bite the Flames where it hurts. Too much money on too long a term. Very easy to say trade Brodie, Stone and Frolik but where are the trading partners willing to take over those cap hits on a declining asset. I can see everybody being happy with Neal for a year or two but then what happens when father time kicks in. No room for the up and comers on this team. Get drafted by the Flames only to toil in obscurity.

    • LannyMac

      It would appear your getting trashed for your comment Watson. Can the people that trashed Watson’s comment please leave your names. Reason being you will be the first ones that if Neal’s play doesn’t produce of the hop or is looking bad in a year two or three you will be the first ones to snap on the current GM for being so short sited. This is going to be a huge albatross very shortly. The current GM is learning on the job. This is something i have a bit of a problem with but I have said with a few of his blunders as long as he doesn’t make the same mistake twice I can live with it. Unlike Brouwer this will not reek in the first year but by the time this contract is at the half way mark you will all be wondering what in the hell we signed an over the hill vet in the first place. Same mistake twice thx Brad.

      • C Watson

        I have been repeating since the Dennis Wideman signing that trying to build a contender through free agency is a fools game. Too much money on too much term. For the first two years of Frolik’s time with the Flames, he looked to be the best of a bad lot. Even then as good as he was, I said he was being overpaid.
        I like Neal, I like him a lot but he is not going to be any better than he now is. I hope I have to eat my words but this is a huge overpay. You cannot win in this league paying the kind of money the Flames pay for their bottom six and for their bottom pairing. People can and will trash me all they like but facts speak for themselves.

      • SgtRoadBlock

        win the right way by doing the a rebuild the right way like the jets/ Leafs did.. we on r 3rd Coach, trade picks away for vets, then trade the vets away to sign older vets… let’s not even talk about how many diff Goaltender we has seen in the last 5 years…But sweet Xmas we got a new/old toy to cheer about, and the poor 9 rfa can rot or get blank hole deals….

    • Rockmorton65

      Name me one forward on the Heat who is being held off the big team because of a veteran. The reason for these trades/signings is that there’s no one in the system to do the job. Tre said as much in his press conference yesterday.

  • Skylardog

    I would like to remind everyone that many, many on here have been screaming for the team to get younger as that appears to be the trend to be successful in the NHL. This move goes against that trend.

    I like Neal, I wish we had Neal on the Flames last season. But he is getting long in the tooth for todays NHL.

    I hope he can provide secondary scoring, and I am sure he will be able to do that.

    But please be consistent. If you have said in the past you want youth, then be careful on applauding this deal. This is not one that makes us younger and faster.

    Hoping he can find 2 linemates that need a bump in scoring and help them to pot some serious points (wink wink Mr Bennett and Mr Jankowski)

    • Burnward

      Oh nooooes!!!!

      All we got is a guy that can score goals.

      If your game is based on skating like a Frolik, age matters way more than a guy with talent to score goals.

    • cberg

      Considering all of BT’s moves so far, the team has gotten considerably younger and faster, as well as more skilled. You don’t need to check all the boxes with every change, just the team as a whole. Neal is a great addition.

      • Getpucksdeep

        30 is long in the tooth? Tell that to Ovie or Crosby. To be sure some players loose their speed early but most of todays NHL pro atheletes peak by 22-25 and have a “best before” date of 32-35. 30 is an arbitrary number.

    • FL?MES

      Ferland is gone. Time to get over it Skylar.

      Neal is legit and lays down a missing piece of the puzzle. I’m pro youth movement but I also realize that you need a mix of players to build a well balanced team.

    • Getpucksdeep

      The LA Kings have the best 3 year combined goals against in the NHL over the last 3 seasons. Quick, Carter, Kovalchuk, Phanuef, Kopitar and Brown all all over 32 years old now. Don’t advocate a return to having 10 vets over 30 but a mix is still needed and Calgary has that in spades. Also note Captain Gio at 34 is still very much on his game.

  • The GREAT WW

    I’m convinced that BT has a trade in place to move some cap.
    We’re all hoping it is Brouwer, Frolik, Stone.
    Maybe it’s Gaudreau……does BT feel that Gaudreau gave up the last half of the season?
    Time will tell…..


  • Zalapski

    They could package Bennet to move Brouwers contract completely and get a decent pick back and a middle pick back like a 2nd and 4th. And he’ll move Stone for middle round picks and or maybe trade someone like Frolik, some of those guys still have value here (Frolik, Bennett) but we’ll see!

  • Pete_R

    I nearly choked on my breakfast sandwich when I read this.

    I can’t see this happening unless they plan on moving some more bodies out. Treliving is starting to remind me a Bergevin.

    • Getpucksdeep

      He made 5 mil over 5 years on his last deal. a $750,000 raise isn’t overpaying. The term is the “price” paid and there will be a new CBA negotiated soon and there may be free buyouts with it like last time. Either way the cap hit can be bought out before he hits 35. Meanwhile lets just enjoy what a 220lb winger with a quick release can bring us for a few years!

  • Brian Burkee

    I see the flames are going down the oilers route. All about the forwards. Defence better play above there heads this year. If you can’t get the puck out of your own zone it can be tough.

    • WillyWonka

      If the Flames traded their top 3 defenseman for bottom six plugs, that would be equivalent to going down the Oiler trail… Flames are both solid and deep on defense, but thanks for trolling, i realize you’re team did duck-all because they traded stars for nothing and are in cap hell with big money going to losers like Lucic… your welcome to hang around and enjoy the fun here, cause we know how dead it is at your ON

      • Still no edit button?

        Oilers fans are just super jealous that we have competent management and don’t need to be gifted a ton of first overall picks to be some what competitive.

  • Brian Burkee

    On the Carolina website they are saying Lindholm was looking for 4.5-5.0 mill per
    How much will Matt and Keith Tkachuk want??? 5 mill per? What about the rest of the RFA’s. All of a sudden we have zero cap space. If we are going into cap hell then we better damn well have a cup contender on our hands. Can Mike Smith take us to the glory land? Can we do this without an offensive d man?

    • supra steve

      Tkachuk will be looking for way more than $5 mil per, but his next contract doesn’t kick in till the 2019-20 season.

      As for scoring from the D, granted we lose our #1 point producer in Hamilton. But with 3 more of the league’s top 60 D scorers in the lineup, I think the Flames will be just fine.

      Man, James Neil would have looked pretty good beside McJesus, wouldn’t he?

      And Gio, Brodie, Hanifin would really solve a lot of the Oil D woes.

  • Mitchell

    So much for that opportunity that czarnik was supposedly getting here. I guess tre really wants to make the young guys earn there playing time. From a development standpoint I’m not sure that’s the best route to take for Calgary young players, but I guess the flames at very least are a better team in the short term.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    So how do we deal with Matt Next year and this we have under $13 million left to Cap with ( 9 Rfa to sign… two we just got from the Canes… you think BT would leave some cash open when the season starts for wiggle room…

        • Searsy

          I wrote that Janko line second, but really, as explained below, they’ll play sheltered minutes with mostly o zone starts given Backlund/Frolik will still be doing the heavy lifting. You can consider the Janko line as a third line if that makes you feel more comfortable, but I like looking at them as a second scoring line.

    • Searsy

      Thinking here is Neal’s best seasons in the league were when he played RW on the Pens. Thinking on my second line is that Janko seems more like a shooter to me than a distributor and Lindholm is the opposite. Perfect match. Tkachuk can do it all and will drive play on that line and help Janko on the defensive side. This line can also have loads of O zone starts. Bennett moves to Backlund’s line where he has enjoyed his only offensive success since he’s been in the league. With Backs and Frolik’s puck pursuit, this line will still be capable of shutting down the other team’s top lines. Fourth line will be responsible (with Ryan’s faceoffs and CF%), but also looks to be able to contribute offensively. I have Czarnik written in with pen, but Mangiapane is only pencilled in. This is the spot in the lineup that Foo, Dube, Gawdin and Phillips can also compete for.

      Brouwer will be on the team, but will hopefully be the 13th forward and only be a part time 4th liner. Lazar can be the 14th forward if we decide to keep one. No room on this team as it stands for Hathaway, Lomberg etc.

      • withachance

        Those are the lines I would go with too. That second line is perfect, as Janko is not neccessarily going to be the centre on every rush with Lindholm switching in C on certain draws. 4th line RW is up for grabs, but I think 4th line LW is Mangi’s to lose

  • oddclod

    Is it just me or does Brouwer skate like those 80’s Hasselhoffish actors (unsuccessfully) doing their own stunts? Buffed upper body but no leg strength. I question whether he can touch his toes TBH.

    • oddclod

      literally who trashes this stuff? the virtue signaller type that ruins anyone’s attempt at a joke because it’s mean, or actual brouwer fan? Dude never been invited to the house party but lecture on drinking etiquette? Sometimes you ain’t been invited only because you have bad breath, there’s mints for that and you can save your personality if you’re not already over 30 and set in your ways. (y)

  • Snitch

    I don’t know what people want on here. They want a top 6 RW, but they don’t want to pay for it. Last week on here it was trade for Kessel. Costs you more money and and assets. Yesterday they want Pat Maroon, who’s not near the player Neal is. They wanted JVR who coat a lot more.

    I don’t get it. What is it you really want. This is a free agent deal for a top 6 RW. Makes our team waaaay better. And no we aren’t going to let Tkachuk walk next year because we can’t afford him (get a grip people).
    We now have a few extra bodies who can be moved and maybe gain a few assets along the way.
    Welcome James Neal! Great signing here!

    • Trevy

      Thanks Snitch, you nailed it. People on here will never be happy and will criticize virtually any signing somehow. GM’s have to do what they have to do to make their team better. I personally love the fact that Treliving is not afraid to take a risk. Only one team can win the Cup every year. I’d rather have a GM try and fail the odd time than do nothing and be stuck with a mediocre team year after year

    • cberg

      You have to watch who is saying what. There are the regulars, the sporadic and then the trolls. Between all three groups you’ll get a wide variety of views on any issue. Personally, I believe signing Neal is a great coup! If we could get Maroon as a FA, or say Kassian for Brouwer we’d be near complete. Still only July 2nd. Lots of summer to go.

      • SgtRoadBlock

        how dare a fan point out the team has a weak locker room last year… then boom the Deer get trade like we said 9 weeks ago should of happen , but we must be trolls.. unless we say it a Cup year run every year right ??

    • Roger the Shrubber

      This 100%. I love this signing. Obviously I’m not in love with the term, but the Flames have a goal scorer for the top line now. He also brings a bit of moxie, which I like as well.

      And for those worried about Tkachuk, give your head a shake. Kid is going to be the captain one day.

    • imthedude63

      Boom … right on the mark. A proven consistent NHL goal scorer. What other goal scoring RFA’s would the C of Red been excited to see signed… Stasney, Tavares? The way these guys train now he could continue to keep those 20 goal years coming throughout the term. Now I’m excited as we have a legit top 6

    • SgtRoadBlock

      so where Brouwer, Lazer and Hathway? just place them waivers… sorry don’t seeing Manggy making this team now or any other kid too.
      Only way this work is a trade or $Dump or buy out…
      9 Rfc still to sign good luck BT you will have a Huge camp for the China trip and back pre season games.

    • Styxx

      I would pencil in Janko as the 3C ….17 goals as a rookie mostly with Hathaway on his wing speaks to his upside. Another look (there are so many) might be:
      Czarnik, Dube, Foo

      Valimaki, Kylington
      – does Stone get traded for a 3rd rounder (what we paid?)

    • BettmanReturns

      I’d honestly pencil Dube into Mangis spot on your chart personally. But hey who knows what will happen. We got a legit contender next season boys. Our top 6 is disgusting. Hats off to Brad.

    • Honkydonk

      With $13 million in cap space and 13 players to sign take away $11 million for Lindholm and Hanifin you have to think Stone is odd man out here at $3.5 million or someone is?

      I like the add as it says we expect more and expect to win now! Also means Brouwer buy out after next season.

      • mrroonie

        Not sure where you get your numbers from. The Flames have 18 players under contract, and Hanafin (bridge contract) and Lindholm will be nowhere near $11 million.