Is Gary Roberts partly to blame for the player Neal has become?
I say yes. To my eyes, Neal looks like a guy who put on too much mass.
Think back to his rookie season. Now picture him next to Modano. What's he doing?
He's going really ****ing fast down the wing, right? He's blowing past defenders. He's winning every race to the puck. #9 looks slow compared to this kid. He's slamming into the boards on the forecheck and forcing mistakes.
Where is that today? It's nowhere to be found. The wheels are over-encumbered. They're gone. He's a step slow all around the rink. He's got the maneuverability and top speed of a bumper car.
Did the Dorsett suspension play a part? Absolutely. But I don't think the primary problem is timidity or lack of desire. It's that he can't get to where he's going anymore. Roberts must devise a new plan for Neal.
i hope the plan is to wait till he hits another streak, building his value, and then trading him for a more consistent player, hopefully a solid d man.