After negotiating a six-year contract extension with Jon Marchessault last week, it looks like the Vegas Golden Knights aren’t done just yet. According to Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston, general manager George McPhee is now turning his attention to veteran winger James Neal, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Neal, who was originally drafted with the intention of using him as a trade chip at the trade deadline, now has become an indespensible part to the Golden Knights’ success. Neal has 17 goals and 11 assists going into the midway mark of the season and remains on pace for a 30-goal season, something he hasn’t done in two years. Neal has had enormous success, playing on the Golden Knights’ second line along with David Perron and Erik Haula.
“No negotiations have started just yet but they are expected to start soon,” Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported during the Headlines segment Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada.
Much of the negotiations will likely hinge on Neal’s willingness to take a team discount like Marchessault did with his six-year, $30MM deal, which no one knows if Neal is willing to do. At 30 years old, this is his last chance to cash in on a big deal. However, with the team’s popularity and success, which he has been a major part of, it’s possible he might take less money or possibly accept a shorter deal in exchange for a bigger AAV. Kypreos said a four or five year deal would be more likely for Neal, possibly as high as $6.5MM per season. Neal is finishing up a six-year, $30MM deal he signed back in 2012 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.