Although many have speculated that he will be a prime trade candidate between now and the trade deadline, Golden Knights winger James Neal told Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic (subscription required) that he is open to signing a long-term extension to remain with Vegas. Neal is off to a torrid start with the team, scoring six goals (including all three game-winners) through the first four games of the season and is their undisputed top scoring threat. Perhaps even more impressive in his start is the fact that his hand has still not fully recovered from the surgery he underwent in the offseason. Neal didn’t acknowledge if GM George McPhee is amenable to discussing a long-term deal but it would appear that him being the top rental available for trade may not be as clear-cut as originally expected.
Elsewhere in the Pacific:
- Still with Vegas, while the Golden Knights have been hesitant to place any of their surplus defensemen on waivers, Sportsnet’s John Shannon suggested to 630 CHED in Edmonton (audio link) that both Griffin Reinhart and Brad Hunt would likely pass through unclaimed if the team tried to send them down. The fact that both have two-year, one-way contracts could potentially stand as a deterrent to some teams who might be interested in claiming one of them. It will be interesting to see if GM George McPhee eventually takes the risk in waiving at least one of them with core players in defenseman Shea Theodore and center Vadim Shipachyov currently being victims of their waiver exemption.
- Last week, the Canucks announced that they would be loaning prospect Jonathan Dahlen to Sweden although they didn’t specify which team he’d be going to at the time. Although he is currently with Timra of the Allsvenskan (a lower level league) having signed there on Tuesday, Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province reports that Dahlen’s stay there will be short as he’s expected to join Brynas of the SHL in early December.
- Ducks goaltender John Gibson left Friday’s game early with an upper-body injury, notes Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register. The injury actually occurred during the warmup but Gibson tried to play through it. There’s no word yet on whether or not Gibson will be available to return to the lineup on Sunday against the Sabres.