James Neal
James Neal.JPG
Neal with the Dallas Stars in 2010
Position Left wing
Shoots Left
6 ft 3 in (0 m)
205 lb (93 kg)
NHL Team
F. Teams
Pittsburgh Penguins
Dallas Stars
Born September 3 1987 (1987-09-03) (age 33),
City of Oshawa, ON, CAN
NHL Draft 33rd overall, 2005
Dallas Stars
Pro Career 2007 – present

James Neal (born September 3, 1987) is a Canadian professional ice hockey left winger currently playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL). While playing junior with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he was selected 33rd overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. After a season with the Stars' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Iowa Stars, he played his NHL rookie years with Dallas in 2008–09. During his third NHL season, he was traded to the Penguins.

Playing career[edit | edit source]

Neal grew up playing minor hockey for the Whitby Wildcats of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA)'s Eastern AAA League. Among his minor hockey coaches was NHL broadcaster Bob McKenzie.[1] After his midget season, he was selected by the Plymouth Whalers in the third round, 80th overall, of the 2003 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Priority Selection. Before joining the major junior ranks, he was assigned to the Bowmanville Eagles, a Junior A club of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), for the 2003-04 season.

Following his rookie season in the OHL, he was selected in the second round, 33rd overall, of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars. Competing in his first NHL training camp, the Stars returned him to junior, where he recorded 21 goals and 58 points with Plymouth in 2005–06. Although Neal was returned again to junior following the Stars' 2006 training camp, he was signed by the club to a three-year, entry-level contract in late-October 2006. He recorded a junior career-hgih 27 goals and 65 points over 45 games in 2006–07. During the season, he was chosen to represent the Western Conference in the 2007 OHL All-Star Game and scored a goal. He also helped Plymouth win the OHL title and led all tournament scorers with five goals in the Memorial Cup, held in Vancouver.

In 2007–08, Neal played with Dallas' minor league affiliate, the Iowa Stars. Neal scored his first career NHL goal in his first NHL game on October 10, 2008 in Dallas against Pascal Leclaire of the Columbus Blue Jackets.[2] His first multi-point NHL game came on November 26, 2008, with a two-goal effort against the Minnesota Wild.[3] Famously, Neal's first NHL fight proved to be a memorable and quick victory. On December 18, 2008, Neal was challenged to a fight by Columbus Blue Jackets' forward Derick Brassard, after Neal checked his opponent Fedor Tyutin hard into the corner of the Columbus zone in the first period. Neal obliged, and produced a gash near Brassard's left eye with a powerful right punch. Brassard quickly called the fight off, where it was later disclosed that he had dislocated his right shoulder and subsequently ended his season.[4] Five days later, he scored his first NHL hat trick during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 23, 2008, in an 8-2 win.[5] His early season performance led to a nomination to the YoungStars roster for the 57th National Hockey League All-Star Game in Montreal.[6] He also broke the Stars' team record for goals scored by a rookie (not including the franchise's years as the Minnesota North Stars), surpassing Jussi Jokinen's record of 17 goals set in 2005–06, in a 10-2 rout of the New York Rangers on February 6, 2009.[7] He completed the campaign with 24 goals and 37 points.

On October 3, 2009, Neal recorded the Stars' first and second goals of the season against the Nashville Predators. He improved to 55 points in his second NHL season. On September 16, 2010, Neal signed a two-year contract extension with the Stars, worth $2.25 million the first year and $3.5 million the second.[8] Leading up to the 2010–11 trade deadline, Neal was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with defenceman Matt Niskanen, for defenceman Alex Goligoski on February 21, 2011.

Neal scored his first career playoff goal on April 20 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in double overtime to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 series lead.

International play[edit | edit source]

Medal record
Competitor for Flag of Canada.png Canada
Ice hockey
IIHF World Championship
Silver 2009 Switzerland
World Junior Championships
Gold 2007 Canada

In the off-season, he was invited to the Canadian national junior team's summer evaluation camp. His physical presence and hard hitting impressed the coaches and he was brought back to the team's selection camp in December 2006. His play earned him a spot on the club for the 2007 World Junior Championships in Sweden, where he helped Canada to a gold medal. Two years later, Neal moved on to Canada's men's team for the 2009 IIHF World Championship in Switzerland. He notched three points in as many contests, helping Canada to a silver medal finish in the tournament. In 2011 he played for team Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia

Personal life[edit | edit source]

His younger brother, Michael Neal, plays in the Stars organization.[9] James went to All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ontario. James has three younger brothers (Micheal, Peter, Nicohlas,) and one younger sister (Rebecca)

Career statistics[edit | edit source]

Regular season and playoffs[edit | edit source]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2002–03 Whitby Wildcats Midget AAA OMHA 47 18 23 41 47
2003–04 Bowmanville Eagles OPJHL 43 28 27 55 54
2003–04 Plymouth Whalers OHL 9 2 4 6 0
2004–05 Plymouth Whalers OHL 67 18 26 44 32 4 1 1 2 6
2005–06 Plymouth Whalers OHL 66 21 37 58 109 13 9 7 16 33
2006–07 Plymouth Whalers OHL 45 27 38 65 94 9 7 4 11 32
2007–08 Iowa Stars AHL 62 18 19 37 63
2008–09 Dallas Stars NHL 77 24 13 37 51
2008–09 Manitoba Moose AHL 5 4 1 5 2
2009–10 Dallas Stars NHL 78 27 28 55 64
2010–11 Dallas Stars NHL 59 21 18 39 60
2010–11 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 20 1 5 6 6 7 1 1 2 6
NHL totals 234 73 64 137 181 7 1 1 2 6

International[edit | edit source]

Year Team Event GP G A Pts PIM
2007 Canada WJC 6 0 0 0 8
2009 Canada WC 3 1 2 3 2
Junior int'l totals 6 0 0 0 8
Senior int'l totals 3 1 2 3 2

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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