— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 12, 2020
James Neal Injured
It is unclear when exactly Neal suffered the injury but he has not played since Jan. 29 against the Calgary Flames.
So far this season, Neal has scored 19 goals and 10 assists for 29 points to go along with 10 minutes in penalties. His possession numbers were 50.2 percent Corsi and a relative Corsi of 3.2.
Over his 12-year NHL career, Neal has played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights, Flames and Oilers. He has 289 goals and 254 assists for 543 career points in 816 career games. He was originally drafted by the Dallas Stars in the second round, 33rd overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
What This Means for the Future
Neal, who hasn’t played since Jan. 29, began skating again on Feb. 6 but sat out of the morning skate on Monday. Before being placed on injured reserve, head coach Dave Tippett said that Neal’s injury is one that can be easily aggravated and there is no timeline for his return.
Neal’s injury is another blow to the Oilers, who lost captain Connor McDavid to an injury this week and are also without Joakim Nygard and Kris Russell. Benson will fill in Neal’s spot but Edmonton loses another experienced player in Neal. At 32-years old, Neal is the third-oldest player on the roster, which has an average age of 26-years old.
Benson was first recalled by Edmonton on Jan. 30 and has no points in his two games. He was assigned to the AHL on Feb. 9, which hinted that Neal may be close to returning. As Edmonton’s depth continues to be tested, Benson could see a few weeks at the NHL level. The Oilers might also have to explore trade options to keep them afloat as the trade deadline approaches.