Predators GM Poile on James Neal: 'If I wanted to change a guy, I probably wouldn't trade for him'

Ian McLaren
Charles LeClaire / USA TODAY Sports

The Predators took a big step towards boosting their offense by trading for James Neal at the 2014 NHL Draft, and despite concerns in regards to discipline issues during his time in Pittsburgh, general manager David Poile says he's more than willing to welcome all aspects of Neal's game to Nashville.

“I'm aware of how [Neal] plays,” Poile told The Tennessean. “I like taking players for what they are and what they do. I'm not big on trying to change players. If I wanted to change a guy, I probably wouldn't trade for him. I think there are strengths and weaknesses. Maybe it's bad habits, but that's one of the things that makes James Neal pretty good. He plays hard all the time.”

Poile also believes he Neal (who was both suspended and fined by the NHL on two different occasions last season) is a legitimate threat to score every time he steps on the ice, something the Predators have lacked for, well, pretty much always.

“I think James is a legitimate first-line winger,” he said. “I think he’s one of the best goal scorers in the league. I think his record supports that. I like his speed, I like the fact he’s dangerous all the time he is out there.”

Neal, who posted a career high of 40 goals and 41 assists in 80 games with the Penguins in 2011-12, is only 26 years old, and remains under contract for three more years. Poile is clearly hoping for big things during that time from his latest acquisition.