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Penguins deal Neal to Predators for Hornqvist, Spaling - 06-27-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins have swung a major trade at the NHL draft.

They have sent all-star right winger James Neal to the Predators in exchange for right winger Patric Hornqvist (above, with Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens) and center Nick Spaling.

Hornqvist, 27, appeared in 76 games last season and scored 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists). He has four years remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $4.25 million according to CapGeek.com.

A few highlights:

Spaling, 25, is scheduled to become a restricted free agent July 1. He is coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.5 million. In 71 games last season, he had 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists).

A few highlights:

Neal, 26, has four years left on a deal with a salary cap hit of $5 million. In 59 games last season, he scored 61 points (27 goals, 34 assists).

EN Says: Whoa.

There isn't any word of any sort of salary cap retention from either side so it doesn't look like either side saves or picks up a ton of cash in this deal. Before this trade, the Penguins had approximately $13.9 million of salary cap space to work with. On the ice, the Penguins improved their depth while losing an elite goal scorer.

Neal's (right) time in Pittsburgh was extremely productive, at least when it came to the regular season. Playing primarily alongside Evgeni Malkin, Neal developed into an all-star and reached the 40-goal mark in 2011-12. In 199 career regular season games, Neal had 184 points, 42nd most in franchise history.

His time with the Penguins wasn't without its considerable minuses however. Discipline problems on the ice earned him several suspensions. Also, his production in the postseason was never at the same level as it was in the regular season. Finally, he was occasionally a surly person to deal with when it came to media, team employees or even teammates.

As far as Hornqvist goes, he's a legitimate top-six winger. Despite being fairly small (5-foot-11, 189 pounds), he's a net-front presence who will get garbage goals. He's capable of playing either wing and is fairly responsible in his own zone. Outside of last season's lockout-shortened campaign, he has reached the 20-goal mark four out of the past five NHL seasons.

Spaling is a bottom-six forward. He will kill penalties and forecheck. He's not overly large (6-foot-1, 201 pounds) but is fairly tenacious.

(Photos: Claus Andersen/Getty Images and Derek Leung/Getty Images)

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