The Edmonton Oilers have made a trade with the Calgary Flames in a one for one deal. The Flames are sending James Neal, a 31-year-old left winger, to Edmonton in exchange for Milan Lucic, a 31-year-old left winger.
This trade is a simple one for one but here is the thing. James Neal has this strange luck that follows him from team to team. Whatever team he ends up on, that team has an electric season after he joins. I’m superstitious, sue me.
It goes back to about 2013-2014, in Neal’s last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins did well that season, finishing 1st in the Metro with 109 points. Neal was 4th on the team in points at 61. The team made it to the 2nd round before being knocked. And while the Penguins were fighting in the playoffs, the Nashville Predators were at home, missing out on playoffs for the 2nd year in a row.
But after the season ended for Pittsburgh, the Pens sent Neal to Nashville and their seasons began to turn around. In the three years Neal was in Nashville the team made playoffs in all 3 years and the team even saw their first Stanley Cup Final appearance.
Change came for Neal once more when the Vegas Golden Knights became a team and claimed James Neal on June 21st, 2017, in the Expansion Draft. And as we all know, Vegas boomed. They made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season, finished 1st in the Pacific Division with 109 points (sound familiar?).
Following that season, Neal signed with the Calgary Flames and once again, they had a fantastic season. In 2017-2018 (prior season), the Flames finished with a 37-35-10 with only 84 points in the standings. In 2018-2019, the team jumped to a record of 50-25-7 with 107 points in the standings. They lost in the first round of playoffs but it was still a fantastic run nonetheless, real 0 to Heros moment.
Where We Are
Now that Neal has been moved once more, after this strange stint of luck he’s been on, will Edmonton make it to the playoffs for the first time in two years?
I’m a superstitious person. I’m no Sidney Crosby but here and there, I think things like this can occur and hold some kind of power balance in the universe. And Neal’s…”Luck” seems to follow him from team to team. Although it’s not like he’s a traveling magical who fixes the team and carries heavy points totals, it’s more like those around him rise up and the team, as a whole, blossom.
That’s exactly what Edmonton can use right now. They’ve got McDavid who is stuck in a never ending rut of being absolutely mild blowing but not having the backup to win games. The team finished last season with a record of 35-38-9 at 7th out of 8. With a team that has this great talent, they deserve a shot at the Cup. They can use some of Neal’s weird voodoo magic to maybe get a glimpse at playoffs for the first time in 2 seasons.
Featured Image: Getty Images