Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Insider Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of NHL training camp
Name/Position: Tyler Kennedy
Salary: $2.35 million
Contract status: Pending unrestricted free agent
2013-14 year in review: Acquired from Pittsburgh on the day of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Tyler Kennedy quickly agreed to a two-year contract with San Jose but was a disappointment in his first season in teal. In 67 games, the winger potted four goals and added 13 assists for 17 points and a -10 rating, the worst rating of any player on the roster for the duration of the season. After the Olympic break he was relegated to fourth line duty on most nights, and was a healthy scratch for all seven playoff games with Los Angeles.
2014-15 outlook: Kennedy’s inability to fit in with the more structured Western Conference style after spending his entire career in Pittsburgh wasn’t for a lack of effort -- he led all Sharks players in penalties drawn per 60 minutes. His struggles in the defensive zone and mistakes with the puck were what got him in Todd McLellan’s doghouse, though, and that’s why he watched the entire first round series against the Kings from the press box.
Frankly, I’m a bit surprised Kennedy is still on the Sharks’ roster, and I’m not sure where he fits this season. I expected the team would move him for something such as a late-round draft pick in order to free up a roster spot for a younger, up-and-coming player. That still may happen, depending on how certain guys perform in training camp. At the very least, Kennedy’s presence will ensure that any younger players that find their way onto the opening night roster will have earned the position.
On the other hand, maybe Kennedy has more to give, and can become the tenacious, impactful player the Sharks hoped they were getting when Doug Wilson surrendered a valuable second round pick for him. The quality of hockey in the Western Conference is significantly better than the East, and Kennedy should now know what is expected of him when camp begins. He’s still a speedy, shifty player in open ice, so if Kennedy can clean up his game and avoid making the errors that plagued him in 2013-14, there’s still time for him to salvage his Sharks career. If that doesn’t happen, I doubt he’ll still be here by the end of the season.