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The Pittsburgh Penguins traded James Neal to the Nashville Predators for two players during the NHL Draft on Friday.
The Penguins will receive Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spalding from the Predators in exchange for Neal.
Jim Rutherford, the general manager of the Penguins, said there was a lot of interest in Neal, according to the NHL.com.
“I probably talked to about 15 teams; those calls were mostly initiated by them,” he said. “I had a few offers. We like Hornqvist; he’s an all-around player. We like Spaling; he can play all three positions.”
The Penguins saved $800,000 on their salary cap after the NHL and NHLPA decided on a $69 million cap instead of the anticipated $70 million cap.
Rutherford said that freeing up cap space now will help the during free agency, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“By doing this, it gives us a better chance to do something on July 1,” he said. “That may be suitable for [Malkin], too… We think we’ll get somebody who fit on his line.”
Neal scored 27 goals and assisted on 34 others in just 59 games this season and he has 161 goals and 154 assists in 413 career games, according to the Associated Press.
Hornqvist will be looked upon to take up Neal’s scoring pace in Pittsburgh next year. He scored 22 goals and had 31 assists in 76 games last season.
Spaling, who is just 25, is a third-line player who had 13 goals and 19 assists in 71 games last season.