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James Neal traded to Predators for Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

James Neal is on his way to Nashville. (Getty Images)
James Neal is on his way to Nashville. (Getty Images)

More NHL Offseason: NHL rumors | Rumor mill | Trade Tracker | 2014-15 preseason odds

In the first big trade of the actual draft, the Nashville Predators acquired James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Patrick Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

We were promised big trades at the draft and one of the GMs in a new job (Pittsburgh's Jim Rutherford) delivered.

Neal, who is signed for the next four seasons at $5 million per season, brings him with plenty of scoring potential to Nashville for new coach Peter Laviolette. He finished last season with 27 goals and 34 assists in just 59 games and reached 40 goals just two seasons ago.

But that was also playing with Evgeni Malkin most of the time. It will be interesting to see if he can bring his scoring with him to Nashville where he won't have the same kind of play-makers around to help.

While the rumors weren't flying, there was always a strong sense that Neal could be on his way out in Pittsburgh. In addition to the problems on the ice at times with suspensions and all-around dirty play, the Penguins had to try and find a way to fix some of the holes on the team and he was a logical target to be dealt.

Meanwhile the Penguins appear to be making a downgrade with Hornqvist on the wing but in Nashville he has been a consistent 25-or-so goal scorer and that's for a team that hasn't had the greatest offense. It's not crazy to think he could reach a new career high playing with Malkin and Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh.

One of the big issues for the Penguins too was to try and upgrade the bottom six and Spaling can help with that. He is coming off career numbers when he finished with 13 goals and 19 assists for Nashville in 71 games.

Hornqvist is signed for four more seasons at $4.25 million while Spaling is a restricted free agent.

A two-for-one swap in which the Pens get a little more depth and a capable scorer might seem like a pretty good deal but there is certainly some risk in trading away who has shown before he is capable of 40 goals.

 
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