At the trade deadline a couple of weeks ago, the Islanders surprised some as they acquired Tyler Kennedy from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a conditional draft pick. Given the Islanders injuries up front, this was viewed as a smart move by GM Garth Snow. However, with the Islanders getting healthier and Kennedy set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, will Kennedy stick with the Islanders? Or will he be on the move again before the start of next season?
In Kennedy, the Islanders have someone who not only has a lot of playoff experience, but experience in their own division as well. Kennedy played with the Penguins for 5 seasons from 2007/2008-2012/2013 so he very familiar with Islander rivals like the Rangers and of course the Penguins. In that time, he also played in 76 playoff games as the Penguins returned to respectability being topped off by winning the cup in 2009. We have come to see that you can never have enough guys on your team with Stanley Cups on their resume. However, should his valuable experience be the only thing that allows him to get entry into the lineup? With the Islanders depth up front, in might not be that easy.
Following the trade, it was reported that Kennedy was consistently in the doghouse in his short time in San Jose because he lacked a role there and was never really given a fair shake in some peoples eyes. Since being acquired by the Islanders he has been given more of a defined role, that of a grinder similar to what he was with Pittsburgh, getting occasional shifts with skilled players. While Kennedy has picked up his production a little bit compared to his time with San Jose, I am sure it isn’t where he or the Islanders would like it to be. So the question is, how much room do you give him before you make a change and maybe give Michael Grabner another chance?
Will He Stay?
That is the question the Islanders will have to mull as the season winds down. Ultimately, I think Kennedy will be finding a new home before the start of next season. While he does give 110% on each shift, his production versus what his cap hit will likely be doesn’t make him a good fit with the Islanders. With the Islanders beginning to spend money now, they could better use that money (roughly 2 million in my mind at least) elsewhere, either to bring in someone new, or toward new contracts for Brock Nelson and Anders Lee who are restricted free agents after this season. The emergence of kids like Lee, Nelson, and Ryan Strome as legitimate threats to produce has also made it tougher to justify keeping Kennedy.