Posted by: Adventures in Pucking | November 16, 2011

Man of the Day 11/16: James Neal

James Neal

Born September 3, 1987 (age 24) in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Left winger for the Pittsburgh Penguins

I was lucky enough to watch the Pens-Avs game last night (no blackout!) and saw that this guy had a pretty good game. Nealer played AAA hockey with the Whitby Wildcats before being picked by the Plymouth Whalers in the 2003 OHL Priority Draft.After his rookie season in Plymouth, the Dallas Stars picked him in the 2005 NHL draft, but he stayed in juniors till the 2007-08 season, when he was assigned to their AHL team, the Iowa Stars. He was added to the Dallas roster the next season.

"It's mine!" "No, it's mine!"

That first season in the Big D was a whole series of firsts for Nealer – his first goal was in October 2008 against Columbus, his first multi-point game was against the Minnesota Wild and his first hat trick in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs . Then there was the fight he had against Derek Brassard in December 2008 – Brassard challenged him to fight, Nealer accepted, and he gave him a nice cut above Brassard’s eye. That’s when Brassard backed off  (only later did he say it was because his shoulder was dislocated). He also set a Dallas record for most goals by a goalie! After another season with the Stars, Nealer and Matt Niskanen were traded to the Penguins in February 2011, and he scored his first playoff goal with them against Tampa Bay before they were eliminated.

Internationally, he was a member of Team Canada when they won the 2007 World Junior Championships, and he played for Canada in the Mens World Championships, where they won silver in 2009 and was on the team this past May. This season’s looking good for Nealer already, so keep your eye on him!

This is Nealer's mustache for, yeah.

– Krista

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