Penguins: Kennedy's contract status still in limbo
June 17, 2011 8:00 AM
Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy scored 21 goals last season.
By Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
He does not, Ray Shero said Thursday, have any sort of deadline for reaching a contract agreement with right winger Tyler Kennedy.
No plans to trade Kennedy's rights if there isn't a deal in place by, say, the entry draft in St. Paul, Minn., next weekend, or to put him on the market if nothing is finalized before July 1, when free agency starts in the NHL.
And, even though talks between Shero and Kennedy's agent, Steve Bartlett, don't appear to have made significant progress to this point, Shero reiterated that retaining Kennedy is high on his offseason wish list.
"I'm hopeful," he said. "I would like to sign him. I think he fits into our team, I think he fits into the way we play."
What he would not say is precisely where he sees Kennedy fitting in on the Penguins depth chart. Asked if he views Kennedy as a top-six forward -- which presumably would translate to a higher salary than Kennedy could expect to receive if projected to stay in his current role as a third-liner -- Shero did not respond directly.
"I see Tyler Kennedy as a good, young player who has played well on a good team and won a Stanley Cup with us," he said.
"He's a good player, and I understand that you have to pay good players."
Kennedy, who will turn 25 July 15, had 21 goals and 24 assists, both career-highs, in 80 regular-season games in 2010-11 and added two goals and an assist in seven playoff appearances.
He is scheduled to be a restricted free agent July 1, which means the Penguins would have the right to match any offer he would receive from another team. Kennedy, however, also is eligible to request salary arbitration, and the uncertainty that goes with that is something the Penguins would prefer to avoid.
While they would be allowed to "walk away" from any arbitration award if they deemed it unacceptable, that would make Kennedy an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team without the Penguins receiving any compensation.
Losing such an asset without getting anything in return is something they want to avoid.
Shero said he does not have a deadline for completing talks with any of his impending free agents -- Pascal Dupuis, Mike Rupp and Max Talbot headline the list of those who will be unrestricted July 1 -- but volunteered that "I get to the point sometimes where I need to know" whether a player will accept what the Penguins are willing to offer.
"If [an agreement] is not going to happen, we'll have a replacement list," he said. "Both sides have to make that evaluation [of whether the proposed terms are acceptable]."
While there are no team-imposed deadlines yet, neither are there any imminent agreements.
"One or both [sides] have to move a little bit [to finalize a deal]," Shero said. "And we're not at that point, it seems."
On other matters, Shero said:
• He spoke Wednesday evening with center Sidney Crosby, who is recovering from a concussion. Crosby has been going through his regular offseason regimen in Nova Scotia for about two weeks and doesn't appear to have experienced any complications. "He's working out twice a day, and everything seems to be going fine," Shero said. "If there are any red flags, we'll hear about them, I'm sure."
• Contrary to reports Thursday out of Detroit, no one representing Jaromir Jagr has contacted the Penguins to see if they might be interested in signing him. "We have not heard from anybody," Shero said. The Detroit stories said Jagr's agents have approached several teams -- the Penguins, Red Wings, New York Rangers and Montreal were the ones identified -- to gauge whether any might want to add him to their roster, and several indicated the Red Wings might be. The Penguins' only interest in Jagr to this point has been to try to get him to return for a reunion of their 1991 Stanley Cup-winning club later this summer.
• He will not try to re-sign enforcer Eric Godard, allowing Godard to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. "He wants to play more, I'm sure," Shero said. "At this point, it makes sense" for him to seek work elsewhere.
• No decision has been made on whether to add a power-play consultant to the coaching staff. "The coaches will continue to discuss our special teams, internally," Shero said, and indications to date have been that the Penguins are unlikely to bring in a man-advantage specialist.