James Neal, an alternate captain for the Vegas Golden Knights has been putting pucks in the back of the net since he was a boy. He is a Canadian professional hockey player. Prior to his draft into the National Hockey League by the Dallas Stars, he played for Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League.
He also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins for four seasons after a one year stint with American’s Hockey League’s farm team, Iowa Stars, then the Nashville Predators for three seasons and is now playing for the Golden Knights.
James is known as a natural goal scorer and on October 6, 2017, he scored the first 2 goals for the Golden Knights in their franchise debut.
He was born as the eldest of five children (four boys and a girl) in Whitby, Ontario, Canada to their parents, Peter and Deborah Neal on September 3, 1987. His family is one that has hockey in their veins and being overly obsessed with the sports, it didn’t come as a surprise when he was drafted into the NHL. The Neal boys all credit their parents for raising them right and for setting them on the path they are currently towing. His younger brothers, Michael, Peter, and Nicholas all play hockey, one sport they were all infatuated with and played together while growing up. They have a sister named Rebecca. James was coached by his father for the budding stage of his minor hockey career.
He attended All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ontario where he earned the nickname Whitby Wizard probably for his badassness on the rink.
James Neal – Contract, Stats
He spent his minor career days with the Whitby Wildcats of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA)’s Eastern AAA League before being drafted into the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2003 in the 3rd round, 80th overall by the Plymouth Whalers after his widget season. After a successful rookie season in the OHL, he was selected in the 2nd round, 33rd overall of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars.
Although he was drafted in the NHL, he was returned to his junior team, the Whalers for two consecutive seasons. While there, he impressed the team with his outstanding performance and was eventually signed to a 3-year, entry-level contract. He continued to prove his worth, helping them win their first and only J. Ross Robertson Cup as the OHL Champions in the 2006-07 season and was also selected as 1st Team OHL All-Star which was a hallmark in his junior career.
He turned pro in the 2007-08 season and played with Dallas’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Iowa Stars. The following season, he made his NHL debut with the Stars wherein he recorded his first NHL career goal in his first game in October 2008 against Columbus Blue Jackets. Two months later, he scored his first NHL hat-trick during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 23, 2008, in an 8–2 win.
With an exceptional record including breaking the Stars’ team record for goals scored by a rookie with 24 goals and 37 points, James signed a two-year contract extension with the Stars just before the onset of the 2010-2011 season. However, on February 21, 2011, he traded from Dallas Stars to Pittsburgh Penguins and signed a six-year contract extension the next year. The extension was effected a day after he scored 30 goals for the first time in his career.
He was once again traded to the Nashville Predators in June 2014 during the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Therein, he was named an alternate captain and lived up to his form. In June 2017, as Predators’ unprotected player, James Neal was selected by the league’s newest team, Vegas Golden Knights after three seasons with the Predators. He helped the Golden Knights to attain victory in their franchise debut with a 2-1 score against Dallas Stars.
In the International front, James has also proved that he is a force to reckon with on the rink. He was part of the Team Canada for the 2007 World Junior Championships in Sweden where they won a gold medal. In 2009 and 2011 also, he joined the Canadian men team to the IHF World Championship in Switzerland and Slovakia respectively. Being acquainted with winning, he helped his nation to a silver medal finish in the 2009 tournament.
From 2003 to 2007, during his OHL career, he had a total of 173 points with 68 goals and 105 assists, and his AHL career totals 22 goals, 20 assists, 42 points. His NHL career has, however, seen him take part in 703 games, scored 263 goals with 232 assists which totals to 495 points.
James Neal’s Wife, Girlfriend
The hockey star is in a relationship with Melanie Collins, a TV host and sports broadcaster who is currently the face of Yahoo! Sports, co-hosts the Big Break on the Golf Channel as well as contributes to The Insider on CBS. She was born on 6th February 1988 in State College, Pennsylvania. Before James, Melanie dated another NHL player, Scottie Upshall, from 2009 to 2013. She started dating James Neal in March 2014.
James had his breakout season in 2011-2012, where he tallied 40 goals and 40 assists.
He was featured on an episode of NHL 36, which followed him for 36 hours in March 2012.
He helped the Plymouth Whalers win their first and only J. Ross Robertson Cup as the OHL Champions.
The Golden Knights alternate captain played in his 500th career NHL game on November 23, 2015.
Between 2008 to 2017, he has scored over 20 goals in each of his 9 NHL seasons.
He has a large body frame with a height of 6’2″ and body weight of 221 lbs.
His position is either on the right or left wing where he shoots left, donning jersey number 18.
He joined the league of hockey players with a toothless smile after he lost a few teeth in a game against Colorado Avalanche in October 2017. The lost was accrued after taking a high stick from Patrik Nemeth in the first period.
James Neal missed a wide open net in a game against Washington Capitals on June 4, 2018, which fans deemed unbelievable.