Feb 19, 2012, 10:02 AM EDT
Getting to skate on a line with Evgeni Malkin would be nice for most players in the league. For a talented guy like James Neal it’s been nothing short of magic for the Penguins this season and with Neal due to be a restricted free agent after the season, Pittsburgh’s brass wanted to make sure he stays in town.
The Penguins signed Neal to a six-year, $30 million extension to stay with the team and continue to ride shotgun on Malkin’s wing.
Penguins GM Ray Shero knew that the more Neal continued to pump in goals, the higher Neal’s price tag would rise. Rewarding him with a deal that will be worth $5 million a year against the cap works out well for both sides, especially if Neal keeps scoring goals the way he has this year.
With Sidney Crosby‘s status seemingly always in the air and Jordan Staal missing time for a bit as well, Neal and Malkin have teamed up to provide the offense they would’ve otherwise missed out on this season. Neal himself has been a sniper the likes of which Pittsburgh hasn’t seen in town in a long time.
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