Originally written on Bleed Black & Gold  |  Last updated 2/19/12

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 14: James Neal #18 of the Dallas Stars looks on against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on November 14, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The day after James Neal scored his 30th goal of the season he was rewarded with a 6 year $30 million contract extension reported by the Penguins this morning.  The deal begins with next season and runs through the 2017-2018 season with an average of $5 million per year.  Neal was acquired last season in a trade with the Dallas Stars, and was quite underwhelming in his first year with the Pens, scoring only 6 points in 20 games.

This season though he has hit his stride and played better than anyone expected.  He currently has 26 assists and 30 goals this season, for a total of 56 points.  It doesn’t hurt that he has the hands down best player on the ice this season centering him in Evgeni Malkin.  The thought of having these two play together for years to come should make Penguins fans just downright giddy.

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