Skip to content

Cashing in: James Neal signs six-year, $30 million extension with Pittsburgh

Feb 19, 2012, 10:02 AM EDT

James Neal Getty Images

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.

  1. Stiller43 - Feb 19, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    If this production stays, which he’s in his early to mid 20’s, so theoretically it should, 5 mil is a good bargain.


  2. bluesrawesome - Feb 19, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    On pace for 42 goals and 78 points that is what you call a bargain.

  3. mrskunitzdrippinlips - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    looks like “the franchise” made another franchise type move. god its so nice to live in the greatest sports city of all time

    • florida76 - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      Another smart move by the Penguins organization to not let this issue linger, and Neal is obviously very happy to have escaped Dallas. Even without Crosby, the Pens project to be a serious Cup contender in the future. Next Cup ties them with Chicago, which is pretty remarkable, when you consider the Black Hawks had a roughly 40 year head start as a franchise. It was easier to win Cups during the Original Six era, fewer playoff rounds, and losing teams won Lord Stanley’s prize during that era.

  4. ferrytales1 - Feb 19, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    Are you guys for real?

    Sure, he’s doing well right now and has had a great season, but are you afraid that his asking price will somehow go north of $5 million a year? He’s a restricted free agent, not a UFA. $5M is probably 1 or 1.5M too much at this point.

    Add to this the fact that he’s never really done this before and you’re tying your ship to him. This contract COULD be an anchor. Then again, he might end up playing up to it, but I doubt he will ever be considered a bargain. He nearly doubled his current contract. That’s ridiculous. This should have been competed in the offseason if only to see how things work out in the post season with him.

    So, the Penguins have 2 players making 8.7M, Neal at 5M, Staal at 4M, Fleury at 5M which adds up to 31.4M for 5 players. Then they have a few overpaid players already in Martin for 5M (ridiculous) and Zbynek for 4M and Kunitz for 3.75.

    How this team is still winning games I will have no idea, but throwing around money like they are is going to put a stop to it pretty quickly. That being said, I like the fit of Neal in Pittsburgh, and I don’t think it was a mistake hanging on to him, but I do think they paid him too much, and they can ill afford to make these mistakes with so many other large contracts.

    • bananaballs - Feb 19, 2012 at 8:51 PM

      They got I believe 4 years worth of his UFA years so yeah 5 mill is a total bargain considering what he wouldve likely been getting on the open market. Even without projecting into the future much, he is a 30 goal scorer. Getting a young 30 goal scorer (on pace for 40 this year) locked up for 6 years at only 5 mill is a total bargain. The pens cap situation is no where near as precarious as it was a few seasons ago.

    • sfbookreviews - Feb 20, 2012 at 3:09 AM

      Sorry, but some of your assertions are wrong.

      Neal is making $3.5 million this year, so signing him for 1.5M less puts him at the exact same salary. Nobody signs that deal after a career year.

      As for his play, he’s averaged about 25 goals a year over the last 4 years. So this is not an anomoly. It’s maturation. He’s 24 and getting better every year.

      Some players who have fewer goals over the last few years yet will make more than 5 million dollars next year include Ryan Getzlaf ($6.1M next year), Marc Savard ($6.5M), Nathan Horton ($5.5M), Mike Cammalleri ($7M), and at least 30 other guys I could list. So, yeah, I have no problem with paying James “The Real Deal” Neal $5 million.

      And those who follow the Pens know there are up to 5 guys on the farm who are ready or extremely close to being ready to take a spot on the Pens. Those guys will make under a million each so not so worried about the cap right now.

  5. ferrytales1 - Feb 20, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    But it’s not a bargain. It’s only even a decent deal if he maintains this production.

    • bananaballs - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      Where on earth in free agency are you going to get a young 30 goal scorer for less than even 6 to 7 mill these days, let alone a 40 goal scorer? How have you come to this idea of what decent deals are? He’s not on an entry level contract and he had years of his free agency bought out and they were bought out at a fairly bargain rate. You’re the only one who thinks this is a bad deal. James Neal if he was a UFA this upcoming offseason would most likely be getting a long term deal in the 6.5 mill dollar range a year. This isnt 2005, the salary cap has gone up quite significantly since then and thus the salaries of subsequent free agents has as well.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1753)
  2. P. Kane (1372)
  3. M. Richards (1256)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1243)
  5. N. Backstrom (1104)