Blue Jackets Sign Former 40 Goal Scorer To PTO

The Real Deal, James Neal was once one of the NHL's most prolific goal scorers, but after a poor stint in Alberta with both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, it seems that he is just a shell of the player that he once was. His stint with the Blues in 2021 was relatively uninspiring, with just two goals and four points in 19 games, but when he played with their AHL affiliate the Springfield Thunderbirds, Neal was once again electric, netting 14 goals and 26 points over 28 games.

Sure, Neal will never be the player he once was, but after seeing that, it's clear that there's still some spark there, and that the Real Deal could once again make an impact at the NHL level.

That's why, after assembling a very good forward group, led by the signing of Johnny Gaudreau and Patrick Laine, it makes complete sense for the Columbus Blue Jackets to take a shot with Neal, to see if he can help their playoff aspirations in 2022. The PTO was signed on September 1, and represents a very low risk, high reward deal, and if Neal can find any of the spark he once had in Pittsburgh, this could be a dark horse team for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2022.

Photo Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports