Dom Lunardo | October 25th, 2019
Edmonton, Alberta. Home to My, oh my, how the tables have turned, and what a difference a year makes. Especially if you’re a fan/supporter of the Edmonton Oilers. Although the 2019/20 NHL season is still in its infancy stage, few in the know would have predicted the success and early return that the Oilers have made on James Neal.
Edmonton, Alberta, the City of Champions. Home to the famous oil rigs, the West Edmonton Mall, and of course, donning their navy blue and orange sweaters, the Edmonton Oilers. Let’s flashback to the summer in the middle of July, where this all began. The National Hockey League is entrenched in its annual off-season, and all that comes with it. But for new Oilers General Manager Ken Holland, who’s a long-time staple in the Detroit Red Wings organization, he was making some work of his new roster.
On July 19, 2019, the Calgary Flames traded winger James Neal to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for power forward Milan Lucic and a 2020 conditional third-round draft pick. At first glance, it seemed as a clear cut win for the Oilers, who cut ties with Milan Lucic, a player who’s best days are clearly behind him. In return, the Oilers received James Neal, a perennial 10-time, 20+ goal scorer, coming off a season to forget in Calgary.
As the calendar struck October, Oilers fans had two things on their mind: The brilliance of Connor McDavid and the return of hockey as a whole. Within a few games, Oilers fans knew that they had something brewing with Mr. Neal. After a four-goal game on Long Island against the New York Islanders, Neal has posted nine goals and one assist in ten games played so far this season,. Even more impressive is the start that the Oilers, as a club, have enjoyed, posting a 7-2-1 record. Playing alongside 97, a consistent and proven scorer like James Neal may have hit the jackpot in Edmonton. Something that we haven’t been able to say for a long time out West.
In addition, there’s a reason for optimism that the duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisiatl is arguably the best one-two punch in the NHL. With the continued strong play in goal from new netminder Mike Smith and a much improved defensive style of play which is a tribute to new Head Coach, Dave Tippett, it won’t be long before talk of playoff games in April are a reality in the Oil City. We’ll see how the season unfolds over time. Fast, exciting times in Edmonton, Alberta.
Other players in the Keep an Eye On series: Jack Eichel
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