by Tony on 02/17/13 at 11:30 AM ET
On the surface, Tyler Kennedy is the prototypical Dan Bylsma forward.
Good speed. Decent forechecker. Decent defensive forward. Not a European (oops).
But after a disappointing '11-'12 season with 11 goals (in 60 games), Kennedy has arguably been the worst performing forward in the Penguins lineup so far this season.
After 15 games, his one goal and two points have the Penguins fanbase, and likely Penguins management, getting weary of his mediocre performance in the Pens' lineup.
Kennedy did his best when he was partnered with center Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke on one of the better 3rd lines in the NHL.
But now that Staal is in Carolina, as Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Penguins beat reporter aptly mentioned the other day:
And it's pretty apparent that Penguins GM Ray Shero is aware of Kennedy's struggles. From Penguins' outstanding writer Mike Colligan on Feb. 14th:
Frankly, it's not all that surprising that Kennedy continues to have problems.
Just my .02, but he has little playmaking ability. He's notorious for not having an accurate shot, often hitting the glass rather than putting the puck on net. So far this season, in 15 games, he has 1 goal in 34 shots on goal. And that doesn't include 7 awarded missed shots (which really seems light). In fact, currently, there are only five forwards in the NHL with over 30 shots on goal with a worst shooting percentage than Kennedy (one of them is Jerome Iginla, by the way).
All that for a forward whose 2-year, $4 million contract was controversial with the fans when it was given to Kennedy on the first day of Free Agency in 2011. His contract expires after this season, with Kennedy being a RFA.
But if you're Shero or Bylsma, what do you do?
Well, Dustin Jeffrey has been available all season, but for whatever reason, he simply doesn't appear to be a favorite of HCDB, only appearing in four games this season.
Zach Boychuk was claimed off waivers from Carolina back on January 31st. While Boychuk clearly has better playmaking skills than Kennedy, for whatever reason he hasn't been able to finish when he was placed on Evgeni Malkin's line along with James Neal, going scoreless so far in eight games with the Pens.
In addition, those that would want to look within the Penguins organization at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will notice that there simply aren't a wealth of quality forwards, especially those that are ready to jump into an NHL starting spot.
The exception to that of course is 2010 1st-round draft pick Beau Bennett, who made his NHL debut this past Friday against Winnipeg. First game jitters aside, Bennett shows several flashes of his talent, prompting me to Tweet during the game:
But it's getting obvious that GMRS is not content with his group of forwards, not simply Kennedy. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Michael Russo from Friday:
Speculation is that Shero was looking at one or both of Pierre-Marc Bouchard and/or Devin Setoguchi.
So it very well may end up that it's not going to matter whether Bennett continues his impressive play. Shero may very well make a significant move for a winger, especially considering the several highly touted defensive prospects in the Penguins organization.
The question then becomes, will Kennedy continue to have a spot in the Pens lineup?
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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