Michael Neal

Hometown:

Whitby Ontario

Currently Playing In:

Pro

Birthday:

1989-04-03

Position:

LW

Eligible for draft:

2007

Shoots:

Left

Drafted:

2007

Height:

6-2

Acquired:

5th round (149th overall), 2007

Weight:

187 lbs.

Probability of Success
  • B

History

The younger brother of Stars prospect James Neal, Michael Neal possesses some of the same attributes as his older brother.

2006-07: He did not post great numbers in his second OHL season, scoring only four goals on his way to eight points in 52 games played. Part of the lack of production by Neal is a result of playing on a very talented and deep Belleville Bulls team.

2007-08: Missed the entire regular season with a knee injury.  Returned for the playoffs, but went pointless in seven games.

2008-09: Neal split time between the Belleville Bulls(OHL) and Sarnia Sting(OHL). He went pointless in 3 games with the Bulls, but scored 9 goals and added 12 assists in 63 games with Sarnia.

2009-10: Neal turned pro, splitting time with the Idaho Steelheads(ECHL) and Texas Stars(AHL). In 6 games with the Stars, Neal went pointless. In 57 games with Idaho, Neal scored 5 goals and added 10 assists.

2010-11: For the second straight season, Neal spent most of his time in the ECHL.  He tied his previous year’s total of 15 points in 2010-11.  He did notch his first career AHL point during his 16 games in the AHL – totaling three goals in all.  He was held scoreless in eight ECHL postseason games.

 

Talent Analysis

Neal is a physically imposing forward like his older brother, James.  His skating is above average for a player his size and he does his best work along the boards.  Plays a clean and fairly industrious game.  Craves physical play.  Has a tremendous off-ice work ethic and keeps himself in tiptop shape.  Doesn’t possess any sort of mesmerizing talent and is still very raw.  Lost a crucial year of development due to a knee injury that sidelined him for an entire season.  Will have to overcome a lot to be considered a legitimate NHL prospect.  Needs to find a niche and become exceptional at it in order to become a valuable asset to his team.

 

Future

Appears to be a fringe AHL player at this point and may spend another year in the ECHL while competing for AHL call-ups.

 

A game to watch

by Robert Neuhauser
on
The time has come for the Czech Zepter hockey cup semifinals. The Zepter Cup is a summer event, where teams form all Czech senior leagues take part. In the first rounds meet the clubs from the minor leagues and the weakest teams are eliminated. It’s simply just one game played and the winner continues to the next round, while the loser is eliminated. After that the 16 remaining teams build four divisions, where every team meets the three others in the division twice, home and away. The division champions are the semi-finals rivals. After the semifinals there is only the game for the championship left. It’s a completely new event in the Czech republic and the semifinal pairings were Vsetin-Pardubice (Pardubice won 3:1) and Ceske Budejovice-Litvinov. This second game featured three future Czech hockey stars. Possible 2001 first round pick Jiri Novotny hit the ice with the white-red jersey of Ceske Budejovice, along with 2003 eligible star Milan Michalek. Also 2003 eligible forward Kamil Kreps wore the gold-black jersey of Litvinov, where he centered the 4th line in this game. Both Michalek and Kreps are 1984 born, but due to their birth dates (Michalek 12-07-1984, Kreps 11-18-1984) they are 2003 eligible.

Big skilled center Jiri Novotny centered the 4th line, with Michalek and mature veteran Vaclav Kral on the wings. Since the puck was dropped, Novotny showed why he is a 2001 top prospect. He played very aggressive along the boards, always using his size to fight for the puck. Jiri also showed good forechecking and tried to hit the opponents and after that make Read more»

WinterHawks’ & Cougars’ four player deal shakes up Western Conference

by Tom Hoffert
on
Last Sunday night appeared to be another night of celebration for the
Western Conference’s come-back team of the year, yet not all in Portland
were celebrating.

A dramatic third period goal by Florida Panther draft pick Josh Olson took
the Portland WinterHawks to another victory, leaving them undefeated at home
this season. The victory Sunday night was also against Western Conference
powerhouse Kamloops Blazers, led by Constantine Panov and Jared Aulin. So
everything was great in Hawk-land, right?

Unfortunately, in Blake Robson’s eyes, all was not well. Following the
Hawks victory, Robson went to Portland General Manager Ken Hodge’s office
with commentary on lack of playing time and a need for a change. What
resulted was a request for a trade. Final answer: Prince George Cougars,
make room for crafty center Blake Robson and raw defenseman Chad Grisdale.
Portland WinterHawks, please welcome power-play wiz-kid Willy Glover and
rookie defenseman Joey Hope. And the grand prize winner . . . everyone!

Let’s face it folks, if you have a player in the locker room who just
doesn’t want to be there, GET HIM OUT! This is major junior hockey, not
some scrub league where old-timers are trying to live their lives
vicariously through their kids. These players are the top prospects for
their age. No disrespect to the college ranks or foreign elite leagues, but
the CHL is where players experience the closest thing to a real NHL season,
including a tough travel schedule and a 72 game season. In light of these
facts, don’t let Read more»

Diamond in the rough?

by pbadmin
on

As previously stated, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had much luck in the later rounds of previous Entry Drafts – especially with players from eastern Europe. Some current Leafs including Sergei Berezin, Tomas Kaberle, and Daniil Markov were acquired in this way. On October 28th, I was fortunate enough to watch a Leaf prospect who just might turn out to be another “diamond in the rough.”

The Maple Leafs drafted defensemen Lubos Velebny in the 7th round of the 2000 NHL Draft. Last year he played with Zvolen Jr. of the Slovakian Junior League. He also played in 7 games with Zvolen in the Slovakian Elite League. As reported earlier in Hockey’s Future, Velebny participated in the Leafs’ Rookie Tournament this fall. At the conclusion of the Rookie Camp, it was reported that Velebny had been sent back to his junior team in Slovakia.

On October 24, 2000, I received a post on my guest book that Velebny was, in fact, playing for the Waterloo Black Hawks in the United States Hockey League (USHL), a junior league similar to the Canadian Hockey League. The United States Hockey League however is a league where players can retain their US college eligibility. I live about 45 minutes from Rochester, Minnesota, home of the USHL’s Rochester Mustangs. I was lucky enough to find out in time that the Black Hawks were playing the Mustangs on October 28th .

The Black Hawks beat the Mustangs 6-2 that night with Velebny picking up a goal and an assist to go along with 4 PIMs. Velebny looked very good, but you can see he is still trying Read more»

Habs’ Draft Pick Shasby Turning Heads

by Chris Boucher
on
Matt Shasby was the Canadiens’ 5th round pick, 150th overall in the
1999 NHL Entry Draft. He’s built in a similar mold to three other Habs’
draft picks. Ron Hainsey, Chris Dyment, and Ryan Glenn. All of who play
in the US College ranks. Although Shasby’s name has not been mentioned
in the same breath as Hainsey and Dyment, his early season success is
beginning to merit some attention.

Through 4 games Shasby has already doubled his goal output of a year
ago. In fact, he scored more goals in an October 14th game against
Michigan (2) than he did the entire 99-00 season. After 6 games he has 2
goals and 2 assists, compared to 1 goal and 8 assists in 32 games last
season.

As a 17 year-old he was selected to be a member of the USA Hockey
Development Program. This is a program which has turned out defensemen
Brooks Orpik, David Tanabe, and Doug Janik. Unfortunately Shasby had
already committed to Lincoln of the USHL. This decision likely slowed
down his development, as he missed out on some of the best coaching
available in the US, and a possible trip to the World Junior
Championships.

Matt attended a Pro Conditioning camp in Minnesota during the
off-season. This camp allowed Matt the opportunity to develop a
conditioning program to increase his strength, and push his weight up to
196 Lbs.

Earlier this season he was selected as the top defenseman in the Nissan
Classic Hockey Tournament, which took place the weekend of October 13th.
He was also named to the All-Tournament team; An incredible achievement
consider Read more»

Size Doesn’t Matter

by Chad Cranmer
on
Igor Larionov was considered by many people to be the best playmaker in the
world not named Wayne Gretzky during the 1980’s when he was centering the
famed KLM line on the Soviet Red Army team. Generously listed at 5’11” and
only weighing 170 pounds, Larionov managed to put together a brilliant
international career before finally playing in the NHL in 1989 as a
29-year-old rookie. If he was an 18-year-old rookie today, he might not
have been given a chance to play in the NHL. With the trend in the NHL
towards big bodies, he probably would have been considered too small.
Many general managers today would rather take a 6’4” 215 pound center with
limited skills than a 5’ 9” 165 pound center who can skate and handle the
puck. The thought is that you can’t teach size, but you can’t teach skills
that a player just does not have the physical tools for, either. Players
like Theo Fleury, Pat Verbeek, and Larionov have proven that small players
can be top line NHL players.

If you look at some of the most feared body checkers in the game in the last
decade, most of those players are not huge. Vladimir Konstantinov weighed
190 pounds. Mike Peca is not much bigger. Chris Chelios is listed at 6’1”
186 pounds, and yet he has sent more than his share of opponents to the
trainer’s table. “Terrible Ted” Lindsay, one of the toughest men ever to
play the game was only 5’ 10” and weighed 160 pounds! Compare them to the
passive 210 pound Larry Murphy or Mario Lemieux, who weighed 220 pounds, and
you have Read more»