Lacing Up: Kennedy The Keeper, Or Kennedy The Goner?
(Note: portions of this email conversation were completed prior to the news that the Penguins tendered Kennedy’s contract, retaining his rights as a restricted free agent. He cannot be signed by any team other than the Penguins without the Penguins receiving compensation)
Name: Tyler Kennedy
Status: Restricted free agent beginning July 5
Expiring Contract: Two years, $2 million cap hit
The Scoop: Kennedy is a frustrating player, showing signs of what he can be, then falling into prolonged stretches of invisibility and/or poor play. He’s been the subject of much debate over the last few years, and that debate continues today.
Matt Paul: It’s no secret I am not the biggest Kennedy fan. But through the playoffs, he showed me something I hadn’t considered before: he’s a quality fourth liner, regardless of consistency.
Kennedy poses strong skating and forechecking skills with a tad bit of scoring potential. On a fourth line designed to provide a spark of energy, he’s a perfect fit. The problem is, Kennedy, as an RFA, is due for a mandatory minimum raise if retained by the Penguins, and he already is making too much to be a fourth liner.
Personally, I think it’s time to walk away from Kennedy, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent July 5. If he goes unsigned and is willing to return to Pittsburgh at $1-$1.4 million, he’d be a nice fit. Otherwise, his role and minutes easily can be replaced.
Zach Boslett: Once, I saw Tyler Kennedy as a strong 3rd line hockey player with some anger to his game that can give you 15-20 goals a season. But it seems as if he has regressed in all areas of the game over the past few seasons into an overpaid 4th liner who believes he is sniper. Kennedy consistently shoots when he should pass, shoots when he should skate, and shoots when he should make a move. And when he does shoot, more often than not it is right into the goalies glove or chest, denying any follow up scoring chances for him and his linemates.
I just don’t think Kennedy has a high hockey IQ. I did not think he was worth the $2 million he was paid last contract and I all I see now is an easily replaced player. Give me Jan Mursak, Radek Dvorak, Maxim Lapierre, Blake Comeau, or Eric Nystrom for half the price.
That may be harsh but I personally am tired of seeing Kennedy waste scoring chances with floating wrist shots from 40 feet away.
Joshua Neal: Kennedy is such a paradox. He is always in the right place at the right time… but not on the ice rink. The only reason he got a $2 million dollar contract from the Penguins was because the Penguins had lost out on the Jagr sweepstakes and Mario was like a woman at Kohl’s Two Day Sale trying to spite an ex-boyfriend.
Sure, he has some speed and isn’t afraid to mix things up. But he turns the puck over like it’s going out of style. He kills momentum not just by giving the puck away, but by taking low-percentage shots that end up freezing plays more often than ending up in the net.
There are many other players – like you’ve mentioned, Zach – who can do all the same things that Kennedy does, perhaps better, and cheaper.
Matt: Kennedy does not get tendered, becomes an unrestricted free agent July 5, and signs elsewhere. (Submitted prior to the news that Kennedy was tendered)
Zach: Kennedy signs a 3 year deal for $2.2 million dollars per year out west and is playing in Europe before the 3 years are up. (Submitted prior to the news that Kennedy was tendered)
Josh: Kennedy gets traded to a team desperate to reach the salary floor – probably Winnipeg, Phoenix, or Calgary.