Flames 3-in-3: Is the decision to sit Neal the correct one?
Calgary Flames winger James Neal posted just seven goals and 19 points in 63 regular season games and was a healthy scratch for the team's series-clinching Game 5 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
But with four years left on his deal with the team, the 31-year-old still wants to be in a top-six role.
"I want to be a top-six guy who is counted on to score goals," he explained. "I want to be an impact player. I've scored 20-plus goals in every one of my years except this year. I know I can get back to being the type of player."
Neal had no points and a minus-3 rating in four playoff games before being scratched.
"That was hard," Neal told Kristen Anderson of Postmedia of sitting in the press box. "I've never had to go through that in my career. That was a tough pill to swallow. For me, I think, going forward, you take it. Be honest with yourself... and come back and have something to prove.
"It was a tough year, for sure. We've got a great group of guys here. It's tough when you're not producing like you should be."
Neal signed a five-year, $28.75 million contract with the Flames last July after topping the 20-goal mark for a 10th straight time in his career with the Vegas Golden Knights.
"I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to say this isn't how we projected things to go," Flames general manager Brad Treliving said of Neal on Monday.
Neal, who finished tied for 13th on the Flames in scoring this season, has the third-highest cap hit among forwards and the fourth-highest cap hit on the team at $5.75 million.