McNeill Acquired by Nashville for O’Brien; Kelleher Traded to Texas

(Photo Credit: Texas Stars // flickr)

The Nashville Predators have acquired forward Mark McNeill from the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Andrew O’Brien. In addition, the Milwaukee Admirals have traded forward Tyler Kelleher to the Texas Stars for future considerations.

Press Release via Texas Stars:

FRISCO, Texas – Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has acquired defenseman Andrew O’Brien from the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Mark McNeill.

O’Brien, 25, has posted three points (0-3=3) and 27 penalty minutes in 21 games played for Milwaukee of the American Hockey League (AHL) this season. Playing in parts of five seasons with Norfolk, San Diego and Milwaukee, he has appeared in 188 career AHL regular-season games posting 43 points (12-31=43) and 243 penalty minutes. Additionally, he has appeared in three career Calder Cup playoff contests, including two against the Texas Stars, Dallas’ top development affiliate in the AHL, in 2016 while with San Diego.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound native of Hamilton, Ont. was originally selected by Anaheim in the fourth round (108th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. He will report to Texas.

McNeill, 24, has posted six points (5-1=6) in 18 games played for Texas this season. In parts of two seasons with Texas, he recorded 17 points (8-9=17) in 38 regular-season games played. He also made one appearance for Dallas last season, registering one shot on net.

The 6-foot-2, 214-pound native of Langley, B.C. was acquired by Dallas along with a fourth-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft from Chicago in exchange for defenseman Johnny Oduya.

The Texas Stars also acquired forward Tyler Kelleher from the Milwaukee Admirals in exchange for future considerations.

Kelleher, 23, has appeared in 26 games this season for the Admirals with 12 points (7-5=12). The 5-foot-6, 168-pound native of Longmeadow, Mass. is currently in his rookie AHL season after competing for four years at the University of New Hampshire from 2013-2017.

The first half of this trade is easy to grasp. O’Brien has been healthy scratched for 23 games this season and only managed to factor in for 21 games while producing 3 assists along the way. He had effectively been placed behind Fred Allard and Joonas Lyytinen from the start of the season and could never find a way back into the lineup. O’Brien was acquired by the Predators from the Anaheim Ducks organization in exchange for Max Görtz just over a year ago.

McNeill’s arrival comes only a game or two away from the exact moment that Admirals top scorer Bobby Butler leaves for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The Admirals were going to need a boost. And perhaps a change of scenery back into the Central Division mix for McNeill can be the boost both need.

McNeill was drafted eighteenth overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft. He can perhaps best be remembered by Admirals fans for his efforts with the Rockford IceHogs where he produced 157 points (72 goals, 85 assists) in 273 games. He was then shipped out of the organization to the Dallas Stars at last season’s trade deadline in exchange for Johnny Oduya. In McNeill’s brief time within the Stars organization he played a single game in the NHL but went on to play a total of 39 games where he scored 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists).

The second half of this news is one that is a little baffling. Kelleher had just returned from injury last night after having missed 15 games due to a fractured patella. He was signed by the Admirals to an AHL contract on the back of a Hobey Baker Award finalist season as a member of the University of New Hampshire’s program. He was great at the Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp over the off-season and was showing signs of what he might be able to do -when healthy- in his first full season of pro hockey: 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) in 26 games with the Admirals in 2017-18.

I’m not sure what “future considerations” will exactly mean but given the play of Kelleher when he is at 100% this season it seems awfully bizarre that the Admirals would solve a potential solution, the Butler void for the Olympics, only to create a new one with Kelleher being kicked out just as he returns. If a veteran defenseman coming back were involved, given the state of the Admirals season, I would understand. This feels rather blank for the moment.

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