Insider Only NHL Insider Report: Neal a prime target for offer sheet

Offers sheets have become rare since the lockout but the San Jose Sharks offer sheet to Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson last week that was matched, may not be the last one this summer.
Two of the more intriguing restricted free agents still unsigned are Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan and Dallas Stars winger James Neal.
Ryan, 23, had 35 goals and 29 assists last season for the Anaheim Ducks. Neal, 22, had 27 goals and 28 assists for the Dallas Stars in 2009-2010.
The compensation list for this season is:
*$1,020,348 or below: No compensation.
*$1,020,348 to $1,545,981: 3rd round pick.
*$1,545,981 to $3,091,963: 2nd round pick.
*$3,091,963 to $4,637,944: 1st round and 3rd round pick.
*$4,637,944 to $6,183,925: 1st round, 2nd round and 3rd round pick.
*$6,183,925 to $7,729,907: Two 1st round picks, 2nd round pick and a 3rd round pick.
*Over $7,729,907: Four 1st round picks.
Although the two sides don’t appear close to a new deal, Ducks GM Bob Murray has been adamant that Ryan will be staying in Anaheim. Many believe it will take an offer sheet in the $6-to-$7 million range for the Ducks not to match, if an offer that high would ever come Ryan’s way.
The player who appears to be a prime target for an offer sheet is James Neal. The Dallas Stars ownership situation has put GM Joe Nieuwendyk in the position where he’s not able to make the coveted long-term offer Neal seeks.
Reportedly the Stars can’t offer more than a two year deal in the range of $2.5 million. Therefore contract talks have gone nowhere between the two sides and no new talks are scheduled to take place, according to Neal’s agent.
“There are no negotiations planned, ” Pat Morris the agent for Neal told Inside Pittsburgh Sports, shortly after 11:00 a.m. today, when asked if any talks are planned for this week.

Morris would not confirm on or off the record if there’s been any contact from teams but it’s believed there has.
Neal is a prototypical young power forward with 35-to-40 goal potential that teams covet.
The sense is the Stars would not be able to match any deal upwards of $3.5 million and a term longer than 3 years.
Penguins fans have been asking me all week if the Penguins have been involved in talks with Neal. Indications right now are they haven’t but you can’t rule anything out. The Penguins I’m told would prefer a trade if a scenario existed.
The team is currently actively exploring the trade market.
Pens GM Ray Shero is the type of GM who is not a fan of chasing players with offer sheets, which is why there are doubts the Penguins would make a play for Neal via offer sheet.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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