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James Neal reportedly headed to Vegas ... for now?


in Game Five of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the PPG PAINTS Arena on June 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bruce Bennett

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Vegas Golden Knights are likely to select James Neal from the Nashville Predators.

If true, the bigger question might be: “How long will he stay in Vegas?”

There are a few possibilities. Vegas could flip him during this off-season to a team who might get more use out of a reliable, big scorer on a $5 million expiring deal. The Golden Knights could also opt to keep Neal for a portion of the 2017-18 season before moving him sometime around the trade deadline.

Finally, there’s the outside chance they could re-sign him or Neal could play out his last year and then leave via unrestricted free agency.

For the Predators, those other scenarios mean very little. On the bright side, GM David Poile wouldn’t lose a younger player like Colton Sissons or Pontus Aberg.

As with virtually every move (reported or official), there’s a possibility that teams enticed the Golden Knights to alter their path with a package of assets. Rumors indicated that the Predators weren’t having much luck in that area, yet it could be the case that they eventually broke through, although that would mean that Poile steered McPhee into picking a still-quite-valuable forward in Neal.

We’ll know more tonight (when the expansion draft picks are announced) and also on Thursday, when the trade freeze ends.

Then again, the Neal situation may still present some additional wrinkles.