James Neal
www.plymouthwhalers.com

James Neal

Hometown:

Whitby Ontario

Currently Playing In:

Pro

Birthday:

1987-09-03

Position:

C

Eligible for draft:

2005

Shoots:

Left

Drafted:

Height:

6-2

Acquired:

Trade with Pittsburgh, 2014

Weight:

185 lbs.

Probability of Success
  • A

History

2004-05: After being a third round (44th overall) pick by the Plymouth Whalers in the 2003 OHL Priority Selection, Neal joined the Whalers for his first full season.  He was named to the CHL Top prospects game and played six games (1+1=2) for Canada at the World Juniors (U18).  He scored 44 points in 67 games in his rookie season for the Whalers.  Neal was selected in the 2nd round (33rd overall) by Dallas in 2005 NHL Draft. 

2005-06: Neal broke not only the 20-goal mark in his second major junior season, but he also broke the 100-penalty minute mark.  He further developed his rugged style of play and had a strong season as well as an outstanding playoffs.  Neal scored nine goals and 16 points in 13 playoff games and was named the Whalers’ Playoff MVP.

2006-07: It proved to be a big year for Neal; he represented Canada in the 2007 World Juniors and won a gold medal, he was named a first-team OHL All-Star and was voted best body checker in the Western Conference in an OHL coaches’ poll.  On top of all that, he led his Plymouth Whalers to an OHL championship. The Stars gave the Whitby-native an entry-level contract in October of 2006. 

2007-08: Neal turned pro with the Iowa Stars (AHL) and had a productive year after a somewhat sluggish start and a midseason knee injury.  Neal came back from the injury and notched 11 points in his next 13 games, and ended up with a very respectable 37 points in his first 62 professional games, which was enough to lead all Iowa rookies.

Talent Analysis

Neal is a power forward with a solid frame.  He has excellent skills and a quick, blistering shot.  He uses his body to protect the puck effectively and does great work along the boards.  He uses his body well, both offensively and defensively.  When he’s on his game, he can be counted on to do everything on the ice for his team, he can score, he can hit, he’ll even drop the gloves in some instances.  He brings a strong two-way game and can sometimes impose his will on other teams.  Neal brings leadership, great character and a strong team-first outlook.

Future

Neal is an offensively dynamic top-six forward capable of scoring 30-40 goals in a season.

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