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Preds Lose James Neal to Vegas in Expansion Draft, Look to Future

David Poile Disappointed to Lose Neal But Ready for What's Next

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

The business the side of the game doesn't always fall favorably.

Predators General Manager David Poile knew all along there was a potential for his club to lose one of its better players to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. On Wednesday, as the League's newest franchise selected one player from each of the remaining 30 clubs, it came to fruition.

James Neal, a member of Nashville's leadership team and a 20-goal scorer in each of his nine NHL seasons, was selected by the Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft during the official announcement throughout the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

Poile worked throughout the week in an attempt to strike a deal with Vegas General Manager George McPhee, but in the end, the Nashville GM realized he was going to have to part ways with Neal.

Video: GM Poile talks James Neal and Expansion Draft

"With how well we played in the playoffs, I'd certainly like to bring everybody back, but the prices [to make a deal with Vegas] were very high," Poile said. "[McPhee] was looking for younger players or high draft picks, and at the end of the day, I just felt that we had to do what the Expansion Draft was set out to do and that was to lose a player. In this case, we lost James Neal and that's a pretty big price to pay.

"The Predators have lost a really good person and a really good player in James Neal."

While the loss of Neal isn't easy to take, Poile has been around long enough to know that life must go on, and with that, the chance to make something else happen in his lineup, potentially with options already in his system.

"For every action, there's going to have to be a reaction," Poile said. "James's salary was fairly high, he's one year away from unrestricted free agency, so you don't know exactly where you would've been in another year. What this does now is takes us in a different direction. Just like we saw in the playoffs when we had injuries, different people had to step up to the plate, whether we promoted a Frederick Gaudreau, Pontus Aberg, Colton Sissons… The bad news is we lost James Neal, the good news is now we're going to give opportunities to some of our younger players."

Video: Preds thank forward James Neal for time in Nashville

Poile is also looking ahead to the upcoming NHL Draft and free-agency period within the next 10 days, undoubtedly a chance for him to survey what may be available as he tries to replace a player like Neal. And knowing Poile, the phone lines will be hot.

"We have a hole in our lineup and now we go on to the [NHL] Draft and eventually to free agency on July 1, and the possibilities are certainly looming that we might need to add another forward," Poile said. "There could be another trade or we could do something in free agency."

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