Losing James Neal In Expansion Draft
As we start to think about which Predators players should be protected for the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft, we look back on the last expansion draft for another offseason mistake made by management.
To ensure that the expansion team of the Vegas Golden Knights would not linger in obscurity for several years, the NHL changed the rules for their expansion draft, allowing each team a certain number of players that they could protect.
This left Poile and the coaching staff with a very tough decision. Should they protect James Neal, a star forward and pure scorer, or Calle Jarnkrok, a younger player with some upside and a smaller contract?
They chose to protect Jarnkrok over Neal, and Neal went to Sin City. Jarnkrok has always been a decent role player that is versatile in the lineup, be he’s not on the same level of Neal.
Neal had just come off of an outstanding season with Nashville, was making $5M a year, and would be looking for a raise in the offseason.
Jarnkrok, however, was the cheaper of the two, and the Predators must have seen enough potential in him to be okay with letting Neal go.
Neal and Jarnkrok have had similar seasons since the expansion draft with Neal having the slight upper hand. It is hard to say what would have happened had Neal stayed in Nashville.
It is no secret that the Predators lack forwards who can score. Neal fit that bill and could have possibly continued to do so had he not been let go.