Photo Credit: Sergei Belski

Report: Flames are exploring their trade options for James Neal

It’s the time of year where National Hockey League clubs prepare for the frenzy of movement that will follow the NHL Draft. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was on Sportsnet 960’s morning show on Friday and reiterated a piece of information that’s been making the rounds: the Calgary Flames are looking at their trade options for James Neal.

Neal, 31, was signed to a five year contract with a $5.75 million cap hit last summer, with the rationale being that he was a guy who had (a) consistently scored lots at the NHL level and (b) had been on a few lengthy playoff runs and could help put the maturing Flames team over the team. Instead, he: struggled to find a consistent spot in the lineup, was injured mid-season, was criticized by observers for a perceived lack of foot-speed, and was a healthy scratch for the Flames’ final playoff game. None of those are encouraging signs for a player with four seasons left on his contract.

Neal had just seven goals and 19 points in 2018-19, which would be 14 fewer goals than his previous career low of 21 and 18 fewer points than his previous career low of 37.

Now, don’t take “the Flames are looking at their options” as meaning that the Flames are trading Neal. That’s not necessarily true. But general manager Brad Treliving has a reputation as a man that does his homework, and you never know if a deal comes together that makes sense for a Flames team that (a) really would like to make a run at a championship over the next few seasons and (b) has a pretty tight salary cap situation heading into the summer.

More likely than not, the Flames would need to eat some of Neal’s salary, eat a bad contract from the other team, or send a nice asset with Neal to sweeten the deal to get a trade done. But it remains to be seen which of those options, if any, is palatable enough to Treliving for him to make a move. While Neal does carry a hefty cap hit, his contract does not have any trade or movement restrictions attached to it.

    • freethe flames

      Were you not just last week saying that Neal should have played on the first line. Based upon that I would have thought you would been wanting to give him another chance.

      • Skylardog

        Was totally joking here and as sarcastic as I could be. But I was serious about how Neal was handled last season. Having said that, I believe the relationship between Neal and the Flames is for all purposes done. Neal will not make his time here easy for the Flames to deal with and will basically make an early buyout the only option left for the Flames to eat an extremely bad contract that should never have been signed. I also believe he is untradeable unless you give up him and a better draft pick than you get coming back.

        I am getting to the point where I believe the Neal signing and coaching choices should spell the end of BT’s time as our GM. More to come later on a full explanation of why I believe it will prove to be the right decision. I have zero faith that BT will get done what must get done for this team to be a contender next season. Backslide is the result to the dismay of all that cheer our Flames on. Sad days ahead my friends.

        • BendingCorners

          Neal might bounce back but I doubt it. He could end up being sent to Stockton if Dube looks like an upgrade. When the new CBA comes in (possibly as early as next summer) Neal is the obvious candidate for a compliance buyout.
          As to BT’s performance and what changes the Flames need, I’m okay with most of what he’s done but I have no idea how he is going to add the necessary depth. The team has no generational players (sorry, WW) and will need some upgrades from somewhere.
          Looking forward to your write-up, even when I disagree I enjoy the quality.

        • Tkachuk'sLisp

          So the Flames’ chances at being a contender rest in the hands of James Neal? The team that got over 100 points this season when many counted them as a bubble team at the beginning of the season?

          I’m interested to see why you think that.

        • Porcupine at a balloon party

          Flames win Western Conference, hire a coach that got votes for Jack Adams and you think tree is getting fired? Not happening. We miss playoffs next year, then ya, I’m thinking his jobs in jeopardy. But even a first round exit and I don’t think Brad will be feeling heat (unless there’s serious regression).

      • Rockmorton65

        That’s something Tre could negotiate before completing the trade. Lucic would need to waive his NMC to come here. As I understand it, he then has the right to have it reinstated with the new team. Tre could, conceivably, convince him not to.

        Plus, he’s from BC. He could be interested in playing for Seattle. What if Tre could negotiate a deal where Seattle takes him? There are some possibilities there.

        • HOCKEY83

          I can see no scenario where Seattle would take lucic over other unprotected players that the Flames won’t be able to protect (who will be much better than lucic) unless the Flames offer Seattle their first round pick.