Senators Player Profile: Chris Neil

This is the fifteenth in a series of profiles on each player for the Ottawa Senators.

Chris Neil, RW, Contract: 2.0/13 (UFA)
6-161/98 (Gauthier), 6’1, Shoots R, YOB 1979, Markdale, Ont
2008-09 60-3-7-10 -13 146pim (14 fights) TOI 10:58 Hits 163
2009-10 68-10-12-22 -1 175pim (13 fights) TOI 11:58 Hits 245
2010-11 80-6-10-16 -14 210pim (12 fights) TOI 12:45 Hits 258

These days the seasons are up or down for veteran Chris Neil.  Three years ago, in his contract year, Neil had a disappointing injury-plagued season.  Despite that, Bryan Murray re-signed him to his current four-year deal, having faith that the season was an aberration.  Neil responded well the following year, scoring 10 goals for only the fourth time in his career.

This past season Neil struggled along with the rest of the Senators.  Although he was in the lineup for the most games since the 2006-07 season, his numbers were down and he posted the worst plus/minus of his career.  He also logged the most penalty minutes since his rookie year, but his fight totals were down.  All the indicators are heading south and there wasn’t much change in his game late in the season when the Senators were playing better (he was part of trade rumours heading into the deadline, www.ottawasun.com/sports/hockey/2011/02/11/17248576.html, and he was also critical of his teammates during the year, www.ottawasun.com/sports/hockey/2011/01/01/ 16729681.html).

One of the best middle-weight fighters in the game and a feared hitter, Neil may be on the downside of his career and his style of play doesn’t lend itself to longevity.  That being said, he still has a lot to offer and I have no issue with him starting the season with the team.  I do wonder about his long term future however, as the number of Senators who can fight and play physical begins to grow (Zack Smith, Zenon Konopka, etc).  Reasonable expectations for him next season would be 15-20 points with 6-8 goals.

Neil’s hit on Bryan Little: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKKzDOFK5EM
Neil‘s hit on Chris Drury: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R8maaJPeFE
Neil fights Rick Rypien: http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/92242
Neil scores against Washington: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFKNK1rIoQk

Next up is Zenon Konopka.

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