I think that Neal had a good season, but he got streaky at times. After he started out the seaosn with a literal bang, he kind of slowed down.
I blame it on the suspension. We all remember the suspension, right? Derek Dorsett of the Blue Jackets took an elbow to the back and went down in what had to have been the funniest hit of the year. Neal got two games. He just wasn’t right after that.
He went on to score a bunch of goals, sure, but I think that suspension did something to him. It took away the gritty little touch that made him our little Real Deal and it was painful to see that. I think he regained that toughness and grittiness towards the end, but it didn’t make up for the fact that he was a ghost of himself for a little while after the suspension.
Now, the suspension is obviously the biggest part of his individual seaosn, but there was a lot more than that. There were times when he was simply amazing. He didn’t have a sophomore slump, which is another plus. I think we’ll see some really gret stuff from this kid in the future.
He did really well on a struggling Stars team, and I’m very surprised that he didn’t get the sophomore slump. We can consider ourselves lucky for that.
Grade: B. For dodging the dreaded sophomore slump and being a “Big Deal,” but for losing yourself after the suspension.