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NHL Draft

NHL Draft: Predators nab Neal in trade with Penguins 0

QMI Agency

Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers), Sam Reinhart (Buffalo Sabres), and Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) didn't surprise many when they were the top 3 selected in the 2014 NHL Draft. (REUTERS)

Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers), Sam Reinhart (Buffalo Sabres), and Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) didn't surprise many when they were the top 3 selected in the 2014 NHL Draft. (REUTERS)

Finally, the Nashville Predators have a bonafide top-six forward.

James Neal won a ticket to Music City after he was traded by the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

Neal, 26, will provide the Preds with badly needed goal-scoring. He has 88 goals in 179 games over the past three seasons in Pittsburgh. He also has four years left on a deal that pays him $5 million annually.

Hornqvist, 27, spent the first six seasons of his career in Nashville. He scored 22 goals and 31 assists in 76 games last season. He has four years left on a deal that comes with a $4.25 million cap hit.

Spaling, 25, scored 13 goals and 32 points in 71 games last season. He is a restricted free agent.

The trade was the first to happen on the floor during the NHL draft Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.

The night got underway with little fanfare. After much speculation and anticipation, the Florida Panthers ended up keeping the first overall pick and used it to select Barrie Colts defenceman Aaron Ekblad.

After teasing fellow general managers and fans by letting the hockey world know the No. 1 pick was up for grabs to the highest bidder, Dale Tallon decided to keep it for himself. He used it to pick the dominant OHL defenceman.

Next up on the podium, the Buffalo Sabres picked Sam Reinhart of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice. The Edmonton Oilers drafted Leon Draisaitl of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. At No. 4, the Calgary Flames chose Sam Bennett of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. The New York Islanders selected Michael Dal Colle of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals to round out the top five.

Sun Media has five reporters in Philadelphia to take in all the sights and sounds in the leadup to the first pick.

All seven Canadian NHL teams are covered:

  • Bruce Garrioch - Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens
  • Randy Sportak - Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks
  • Ken Wiebe - Winnipeg Jets
  • Rob Longely - Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Rob Tychkowski - Edmonton Oilers

-- STARTING AT 6:30 P.M. MIKE ZEISBERGER WILL BE TAKING YOUR QUESTIONS AND PROVIDING INSTANT ANALYSIS AS PICKS ROLL IN --

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