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Neal signs five-year contract with Flames

Forward gets $28.75 million, had 44 points to help Golden Knights reach Stanley Cup Final last season

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James Neal signed a five-year, $28.75 million contract with the Calgary Flames on Monday. It has an average annual value of $5.75 million.

The 31-year-old forward had 44 points (25 goals, 19 assists) in 71 games with the Vegas Golden Knights last season. He scored the first goal in Golden Knights history and the winning goal in each of their first three games.

He had 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games last season, helping the expansion Golden Knights reach the Stanley Cup Final, which they lost to the Washington Capitals in five games.

 

[RELATED: NHL Free Agent Tracker | Fantasy impact of Neal signing]

 

Neal also played with the Nashville Predators in the 2016 Final, won by the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

"For me, I want to win," Neal said. "I've been really close the last few years to winning a Stanley Cup. Once you get a taste you want more. We have great goaltending in [Mike Smith], and we have great guys up front and a good [defense] corps. I feel like we're really close to winning, and for me I hope I can be that little piece that they've been missing."

The Flames were 37-35-10 last season, 11 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Neal said he is confident that a foundation including forwards Johnny Gaudreau, who led Calgary with 84 points (24 goals, 60 assists), and Sean Monahan, who had a Flames-high 31 goals, will help Calgary reach the next level.

"I'm excited about those two guys for sure," Neal said. "That's definitely a big reason I wanted to come to Calgary. Those two guys are unbelievable players. They make everybody around them better. And like I said with the goaltending and D-corps, we're really close to winning. Hopefully I'm that piece that can push us over the edge and bring us a championship in Calgary."

Video: Breaking down James Neal's new deal with the Flames

The Golden Knights chose Neal from the Predators in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. He was selected by the Dallas Stars in the second round (No. 33) of the 2005 NHL Draft. He has 495 points (263 goals, 232 assists) in 703 NHL games, and 55 points (31 goals, 24 assists) in 100 playoff games.

"He fills a specific need, which is a top-six right winger," Flames general manager Brad Treliving said. "It's an area that we've been looking to address for a while. He fits a spot that we have open. He's a big body, power-play guy, scores 5-on-5.

"When you look at a specific area going into this offseason, we wanted to look at our forward group and address some areas … depth at center ice, adding a right-shot at center ice, looking at our right wing position higher in the lineup, and creating overall depth in the organization. He certainly addresses some of that."

The Flames this offseason acquired forward Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forward Micheal Ferland. Bill Peters also replaced Glen Gulutzan as coach.

Video: James Neal on signing a five-year deal with Calgary

Neal, a native of Whitby, Ontario, has scored at least 21 goals in each of his first 10 NHL seasons. He scored an NHL career-high 40 goals with the Penguins in 2011-12 and 31 with the Predators in 2015-16.

He has never played for an NHL team based in Canada in 10 seasons.

"In the end, coming back and playing in a Canadian city and playing for the Flames and seeing how close they are to winning … they have all the right pieces … it's going to be a good fit," Neal said.

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