It appears more and more likely that the rugged veteran winger may be traded from the only NHL team he’s ever played for.
Not for sure, but certainly very possible.
While Neil’s initial reaction to a trade when meeting with Senators general manager Bryan Murray was that he’d rather stay put and stay loyal, as time has gone on, I think Neil is beginning to wrap his mind around the idea of moving.
His agent, Todd Reynolds of Uptown Sports Management, told ESPN.com on Wednesday that "several clubs" have reached out to him to express interest and to find out if Neil would ever consider leaving Ottawa.
Neil has a limited no-trade clause, which features a list of 15 teams he won't accept a trade to, hence the 14 other teams in the league are in play. The list was submitted in October.
The Senators are believed to be receiving lots of interest in Neil, who has another year remaining on his contract, which carries a $1.9 million cap hit yet only a $1.5 million salary.
Also, Neil’s role has diminished a bit since Dave Cameron became the coach in Ottawa, so that might be a factor if he's beginning to be more open-minded about a move.
A Western Conference source told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Nashville Predators are among the clubs interested in Neil, which makes sense given Neil's connection to Predators center Mike Fisher, a former teammate in Ottawa and a good friend. And the fact that the Predators probably feel they need to toughen up a little to match up with the big boys in the West.
Neil’s the kind of guy who can certainly make a difference in a tough, grind-it-out playoff series.
Another team apparently with interest, according to a different Western Conference source, is the Chicago Blackhawks, but because they have hardly any cap space, it’s a deal they can’t make unless they move another player on their roster, and I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Do the Hawks like Neil? Yes. Can they make it happen? Seems like a reach at this point.
Again, several clubs are interested, so who knows where he ends up.
I’m not saying for sure he’s moving, because clearly there is some emotion at play here. Neil loves Ottawa, but it certainly sounds very possible at this point.
Other bits from around the league:
Speaking of Fisher and the Predators, word is the club has begun preliminary talks with the pending unrestricted-free-agent center on a new contract. I can’t imagine he’s going anywhere. And veteran agent Don Meehan of Newport Sports told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Predators have reached out about wanting to start talks regarding center Mike Ribeiro, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
I mentioned in Tuesday’s Rumblings blog that the Predators were among the many teams interested in Cody Franson. I don’t want to put too much into this, but it’s worth noting that Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis stayed behind in Nashville after his team left Tuesday night and will take in Thursday’s game there. Just saying ...
Mike Santorelli, who scored his 10th goal of the season for the Leafs on Tuesday in Nashville, is generating nice interest, including from his former club in Vancouver, a source said. The Canucks have indicated to the Leafs that they’d be interested in a trade to bring Santorelli back to Van City. However, Vancouver is hardly alone in the pursuit of the versatile two-way forward. The New York Rangers and a number of other clubs like him, especially since his cap hit of $1.5 million is so reasonable. However, a source told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Leafs have reached out within the last little while to Santorelli’s agent J.P. Barry to broach the discussion of an extension. If there’s a fit, then perhaps Toronto signs him. But if the two sides can’t find common ground, then he’s obviously traded by March 2.
And finally, word is the Los Angeles Kings have reached out to Kyle Clifford's camp to begin preliminary talks on an extension. Clifford becomes a restricted free agent on July 1, so he’s not going anywhere. What will be interesting here is whether this is a short- or long-term deal. I’m a big Clifford fan, I think he’s got more room to grow and has the tools to be a real power forward if given the chance.