Because of injuries, the 2010-11 Pittsburgh Penguins ended up being a disappointment on the overall expectation of a deep playoff run and chance at capturing the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup. The optimistic Pens fan will consider the various pleasant surprises that popped up during the season.
Arguably the most pleasant surprise of the bunch would be the emergence of Tyler Kennedy as a consistent goal scoring threat. While hitting a career high 21 goals may not seem like a reason to do cartwheels to a casual observer, the fans that watch game in and game out know that in previous seasons TK was very streaky when it came to putting the puck in the net.
Last season, Kennedy broke free of that by stepping his game up during the injury-riddled season. This career high productivity earn him a two-year $2 million contract.
Now that we are in to the month of August, the season is not all that far away. Training camps will take place in September, as will pre-season games. The good news ladies and gentlemen, is that we are nearing on-ice competition once again!
The article cited above was completed July 2nd by Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Molinari was already thinking what we will discuss in the following slides: where will Kennedy play next season?
Regarding the Penguins plans for Kennedy, Molinari wrote "they still do not know exactly where he will fit in next season. Just that he almost certainly will assume a more prominent role than he has to this point in his career."
Molinari's column also featured a quote from Penguins coach Dan Bylma on that matter.
"He did better [on lines with] Malkin and Crosby than he had done in years prior," Bylsma said. "He made some plays, complemented them, didn't defer to them. He showed that he could complement them and play with them."
There will be many factors that determine whether Tyler Kennedy assumes a top six forward role, of if he returns to a blue-collar, energy line role. Some of the key factors are contained in the slides ahead.