Neil announced his retirement from the NHL on Thursday. Neil -- who spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Senators -- was offered a PTO with the Canadiens at the start of the season, but declined, preferring to stick with one team. Even in the locked-out 2004-05 campaign, the 38-year-old played for Ottawa's AHL affiliate in Binghamton, rather than heading overseas like many other players. Drafted by the team in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Draft, the winger would go on to play in 1,026 games as a persistent pest and enforcer and racking up 2,522 PIM (20th all-time). In addition to his time spent in the box, the Ontario native tallied 112 goals and 138 assists in the regular season, as well as accruing 19 points -- and 204 more PIM -- in 95 playoff contests.
Neil is "not stressed at all" by the fact that he hasn't signed with a new team four weeks into free agency, Postmedia reports. Neil's fourth contract with the Senators has expired, so he's looking for work as an unrestricted free agent. Apparently, the 38-year-old is getting attention on the open market, but he won't take just any offer that's on the table. "Everything is pretty quiet right now," Neil said. "Obviously, I've had some offers from teams. Looking at it, it wasn't the right fit at the time. There's some stuff in the air, and we're still going through it. It's not just me I'm thinking about. It's my wife and my kids. It's got to be the right kind of fit, like Ottawa has been through my whole career." Indeed, Neil had been property of the Sens since they drafted him in the sixth round of the 1998 draft. He's accumulated 250 points (112 goals, 138 assists) in 1,026 games.
Neil will not be brought back by the Senators next season, Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia reports. Neil has been with Ottawa for the past 15 seasons since being selected by the organization in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Draft. Unfortunately for the 37-year-old, changes to the game have made enforcers a relic of the past. The winger played in a mere 53 outings this year, totaling four points and 63 PIM. Neil will look to catch on with another team, but if he doesn't, he will retire as No. 20 all time in PIM with 2,522.
Neil is likely to serve as a healthy scratch Saturday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports. The elder statesman needs to draw into just five more postseason contests to reach 100 in his career, but we suspect the Senators will be looking to deploy a skater with more of an offensive touch to hang with the attack-happy Penguins.
Neil is expected to play in Game 5 against the Rangers on Saturday, John Shannon of Sportsnet reports. Neil hasn't hit game ice since April 9, but he's on track to be unleashed in a pivotal playoff contest. The Senators evidently don't want to get outmuscled in their own barn, and deploying the grizzled veteran certainly plays to that idea. Neil hasn't appeared in a playoff game since 2014-15, but he's been involved in 93 total postseason contests. Don't expect miracles from Neil from a fantasy standpoint since he'll almost assuredly be in a bottom-six role.
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