Sunday: As expected, Neal has cleared waivers and can now be assigned to the Oilers’ taxi squad. His $5.75MM cap hit will be reduced to $4.675MM once the move is completed. Edmonton has waived a number of forwards this season who have made their way back to the active roster eventually, as will likely be the case for Neal.
The 33-year-old has been a healthy scratch several times already this season and is off to a quiet start with just two goals and an assist in nine games. Both goals came in the same game and he was out of the lineup for a week after that. With his lineup spot being far from guaranteed, there’s little risk in putting him on the waiver wire.
Neal has failed to live up to the five-year, $28.75MM contract he signed with Calgary back in 2018 and while he had a bit of a bounce-back 19-goal season with Edmonton last year after being acquired for another free agent mistake in Milan Lucic, he still hasn’t come close to being worth his $5.75MM price tag. With two years left on his deal after this one, it’s a safe bet he will go through unclaimed.
With Edmonton deep into using LTIR, they’re not going to be in a position to free up some cap space by sending Neal to the taxi squad or to AHL Bakersfield. Instead, what this move does is just give them a bit of extra roster flexibility to be able to shuffle veterans to and from the taxi squad with ease. They’ve already gone this route with Devin Shore, Tyler Ennis, and Alex Chiasson this season and now Neal will join the group once he goes unclaimed on Sunday.