After an unproductive season-and-a-half with the San Jose Sharks, forward Tyler Kennedy was dealt to the Islanders at last year’s trade deadline.
Kennedy skated in 13 regular season games for New York down the stretch and three more in the playoffs, where he was a healthy scratch four times in a seven-game series loss to Washington.
Now, the 29-year-old is looking for work as an unrestricted free agent. In the meantime, he’s been skating in Pittsburgh, his former NHL home for the first six seasons of his career.
“I tried my best last year. I did everything I could to have a good year, and things didn't really work out,” Kennedy told the Pittsburgh Tribune on Tuesday. “I hope my agent does a good job. I have a lot of faith in him.”
When Doug Wilson dealt Kennedy for what turned out to be just a seventh-round pick in the 2015 draft, it was not overly astonishing. Coach Todd McLellan never warmed to Kennedy’s game, which was likely hindered by several injuries including an upper body injury that kept him out for the first month of last season. Back problems relegated him to the press box from early January to early December, too, and Kennedy played in just 25 of 63 games with four goals and nine points.
Kennedy, who was acquired by the Sharks for a second-round pick in 2013 and quickly signed a two-year, $4.7 million contract, indicated that he’s been training harder this offseason in the hopes of staying in the NHL.
“I feel great. I feel like I should've trained like this five years ago,” Kennedy said. “It's not the situation you want to be in, but that's life. I think it'll make me stronger as a person.”
Considering NHL training camps open in less than a month, Kennedy may have to settle for a pro tryout somewhere.
“I've got nothing to lose,” Kennedy said. “It might be good for me. Less pressure on me. I was making a little bit of money there, felt like I had to produce. Now I feel like I can do out there and play my game, my skating game.”
In 477 career NHL games, Kennedy has 86 goals and 199 points.
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Two more former Sharks forwards are also still unemployed, as James Sheppard and Adam Burish have yet to catch on with a team. Sheppard was traded to the Rangers on March 1 for a fourth-round pick, while Burish was bought out at the end of the season after he was reassigned to the AHL in November.
Sheppard, 27, contributed two goals in 14 regular season games for New York, and one goal and one assist in 13 playoff games as the Rangers fell in the Eastern Conference Finals. In 394 career NHL games, he has 23 goals and 91 points.
Burish, 32, has 60 points (27g, 33a) and 554 penalty minutes in 378 career NHL games.