In the midst of his best NHL season, things just got a little bit better for Pittsburgh Penguins
forward James Neal
Neal, who scored his 30th goal of the season in Saturday's 6-4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers
, signed a six-year, $30 million contract extension on Sunday that binds him to the team through the 2017-18 season.
"I love everything about what goes on here and how we play the game," Neal told the team's website. "I just couldn't see myself anywhere else."
Neal could have been a restricted free agent July 1.
"As we've gotten to know Neal over past year, he really fits with our group," Penguins General Manager Ray Shero
told the team's website. "It's really difficult to find players like this. Neal has size, uncanny release, heavy shot, goes to the net hard, can skate. There's a lot to like even beyond the 30 goals."
Playing on Evgeni Malkin
's left wing for most of the season, Neal is tied for third in the League in goals heading into Sunday's game in Buffalo (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), and he's tied for the League lead with 13 power-play goals. He's also leads the League in shots on goals (242), has set career-highs in goals and points (56), and played in his first NHL All-Star Game.
Acquired by the Penguins from the Dallas Stars
last Feb. 21, Neal had just one goal in 20 games with the Pens, and one goal in seven playoff games as the Penguins were eliminated in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning
The 6-foot-2, 208-pound left wing has 103 goals and 90 assists in 292 games with the Stars and Penguins. He's scored at least 20 goals in all four of his NHL seasons.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK