Edmonton Oilers Buyout Veteran Forward James Neal

James Neal Edmonton Oilers
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On Tuesday, the Edmonton Oilers announced that they will be buying out veteran forward James Neal. This news comes in anticipation of a busy off-season for the Oilers after the team got swept by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2021 NHL playoffs.

James Neal Bought Out By Edmonton Oilers

The 33-year-old Neal was originally acquired by the Oilers on July 19th, 2019 as a part of a trade with the Calgary Flames which saw Milan Lucic and a conditional 2020 third-round pick go to the Flames in return for Neal. During his tenure with the Oilers, Neal put up a combined 41 points in 84 games. Neal’s health has been a concern, as the veteran was only able to get into 29 regular season and two playoff games with the Oilers this past season.

The power forward would have carried a $5.75 million cap hit for the next two seasons. It is safe to say that the ageing Neal’s performance wouldn’t have lived up to that contract for its remaining years. By buying him out, Neal’s contract will only cost the Oilers $1.9 million against the cap over the next four years.

Implications on the Oilers’ Future

After buying out Neal, the Oilers have some added cap flexibility to sign some critical players essential to their future. GM Ken Holland

recently signed core forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a massive eight-year, $41 million dollar extension. The team still needs to make decisions on pending RFAs Jujhar Khaira, Kailer Yamamoto, and Dominik Kahun. Some notable Oilers such as Mike Smith, Tyson Barrie, and Adam Larsson all also need new contracts.

Looking down the road, core players such as Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear all come off the books next season. Neal’s buyout will certainly help to clear some cap space to resign these players.

After underperforming in the playoffs yet again, the Oilers will need to make some important decisions this offseason. The team will need to surround franchise forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl with some talent. With McDavid and Draisaitl still in their primes, the team will look to make some signings that will help propel the team deeper into the playoffs.

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