The Pittsburgh Penguins dealt a top scoring winger, improving their forward depth in the process. . Numbers Game breaks down the trade sending James Neal to Nashville for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. The Predators Get: RW James Neal. Neal, 26, is a power forward who has been riding high while playing on Evgeni Malkins wing for the bulk of his time in Pittsburgh. Over the past three seasons, he has scored 88 goals, which ranks fifth, behind Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry and Phil Kessel. Hes also put up dominant possession stats, but a lot of that would figure to be related to the favourable ice time that he gets with Malkin. While the Predators are aiming to get more scoring in their game, they dont nearly have the playmakers to compare with Pittsburgh, so if Neal ends up playing with Mike Fisher, Colin Wilson or Calle Jarnkrok, none of them is particularly dominant offensively, so expect Neals production to dip. The question is, how far? Before he joined the Penguins, Neal had 131 points in 214 games with the Dallas Stars, a 50-point pace over an 82-game season. That should be about the baseline, with room to move up because Neal currently is a better player than he was from age 21 to 23, but we can also keep in mind that Neal has scored more than 60 points twice in his career. Neal is signed for four more years, at a cap hit of $5-million per season, so hes a reasonably-priced first line forward for the Predators. The Penguins Get: RW Patric Hornqvist and LW Nick Spaling. Hornqvist is a 27-year-old winger who has been one of the more prolific shooters in the game over the past five seasons. Hes a four-time 20-goal scorer who is most effective right around the crease, deflecting shots and knocking in rebounds. He played primarily with Mike Fisher last season (with Colin Wilson and Matt Cullen their most common linemates) and while that line was effective -- Hornqvists relative possession stats have always been really good -- its not quite as dynamic as what opportunities Hornqvist should have in Pittsburgh. If Neal is expected to see his scoring go down as a result of this trade, naturally Hornqvist should expect an uptick in his scoring numbers. He scored a career-high 53 points last season and while his on-ice shooting percentage was a career-best, it wasnt outrageous and is still below what is typical for wingers alongside Malkin or Crosby. Signed for four more years, at a cap hit of $4.25-million, Hornqvist comes a little cheaper than Neal, but not dramatically, so the Penguins have to expect that they are not going to lose much offensively. Spaling, 25, scored a career-best 32 points last season, playing a career-high 16:01 per game, and while he may not play quite as much in Pittsburgh, the hope is that he might help the Penguins bottom six forwards. However, Spalings possession stats have been rough for most of his time in Nashville, which doesnt suggest that hell be turning the tide on his own. A restricted free agent who earned $1.5-million last season, Spaling is looking at a raise, but the Penguins are probably not in position to give him a lot more money, but they need Spaling to give them more reliable minutes on the third line. It didnt come as a massive surprise that the Penguins moved Neal -- it has been rumoured as a possibility for some time -- but the return may be something of a surprise. The Penguins didnt save a bunch of money; rather, they found a couple of forwards with the hope that will help improve their depth up front. They sacrificed the most talented player in the deal, though, and that presents a certain amount of risk, particularly if Hornqvist doesnt produce at the same level. For a Nashville team that is making a concerted effort towards a more offensive style, Neal is a big addition, well worth the price they paid. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. . - The New York Rangers have momentum, a unified locker room and Henrik Lundqvist. . The 10-year deal the league and players agreed to that ended the 2011 lockout gave either side the right to opt out after six years. With the league projecting financial growth, there has been speculation that players will take that option in three years, especially since a new national TV contract will be in place by then.Andrea Pirlos sumptuous free kick earned Juventus a place in the Europa League quarterfinals, where the competition favourites were joined in an attractive lineup by Sevilla after its penalty-shootout win over fierce Spanish rival Real Betis on Thursday. Portuguese sides Benfica and Porto also advanced to the last eight while Basel overcame an early red card to win 2-1 at Salzburg and progress from a last-16 second leg that was briefly suspended because of crowd trouble. Lyon, Valencia and AZ Alkmaar will also be in Fridays draw in Nyon, Switzerland, where the team to avoid will be Juventus -- even though the Italian champions made heavy work of their all-Italian last-16 match against Fiorentina. Having drawn 1-1 at home in the first leg, Juve was staring at elimination on the away-goals rule until Fiorentina defender Gonzalo Rodriguez was dismissed in the 69th minute for a second booking. From the resulting free kick at the edge of the area, Pirlo stepped up and whipped a brilliant strike into the top corner to seal a 1-0 win. The classy Italy midfielder shows no sign of decline at the age of 34 -- he scored a similarly sublime free kick for his team in a last-gasp league win over Genoa on Sunday, which kept Juve 14 points clear in Serie A and on course to defend its title. Juventus will be hosting the Europa League final on May 14 and the runaway Italian league leader may yet be playing in the showpiece match in front of its own fans. Sevilla overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit courtesy of goals by Jose Antonio Reyes and Carlos Bacca, earning a 2-0 win that sent the match to penalties. Sevillas first spot kick by Vitolo was saved but Alfred NDiaye and Nono failed to find the target with Betis last two attempts, putting the two-time winners through 4-3 on penalties. Benfica remained on course for a return to the final after surviving a late fightback by Tottenham to draw 2-2 in their second leg and advance 5-3 on aggregate. Two goals in less than two mminutes by Nacer Chadli put Spurs 2-1 ahead on the night and gave them 11 minutes to score another, which would have forced extra time. . The English team missed a number of chances before conceding a penalty deep into injury time, converted by Lima. There was no repeat of the touchline spat between rival coaches Jorge Jesus and Tim Sherwood form the first leg -- Sherwood opted to sit in the stands and stay out of trouble. Portos 1-0 lead from its first leg against Napoli was wiped out by Goran Pandevs deft finish in the 21st minute. The Italian side dominated but was picked off on counterattacks through goals by Nabil Ghilas in the 69th and Ricardo Quaresma in the 76th. Quaresma, the mercurial playmaker, finished off a flowing move by jinking between two defenders and slamming a shot high into the net for the goal of the evening. Duvan Zapatas consolation goal earned Napoli a 2-2 draw but it exited 3-2 on aggregate, denying coach Rafael Benitez the opportunity to retain the title he won when in interim charge of Chelsea last season. Players were taken off the pitch by the referee for about 10 minutes midway through the first half of Salzburg-Basel after missiles, including fireworks, were thrown onto the field of play by Basel fans. The score was 1-0 to Salzburg at the time after Jonatan Sorianos competition-high eighth goal in the Europa League, while Basel was down to 10 men after Marek Suchys straight red in the ninth minute. However, Marco Streller and Gaston Sauro scored headed goals in the second half for the Swiss team and Salzburg also ended the match with 10 men after Alan received a second yellow card for trying a bicycle kick and hitting Basel defender Philipp Degen in the face. Lyon lost 2-1 at Viktoria Plzen but advanced 5-3 on aggregate, Valencia beat Ludogorets Razgrad 1-0 thanks to Paco Alcacers 59th-minute goal and advanced 4-0 on aggregate. AZ Alkmaar drew 0-0 at Anzhi Makhachkala for a 1-0 aggregate victory. ' ' '
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05 déc. 2019
Numbers Game breaks
Numbers Game breaks