Insider Only Thursday’s Daily Five: Kennedy forcing his way out of Pittsburgh would be a mistake

The Daily Five

1. At age 24 and coming off a 21 goal season and establishing himself as a top-9 forward for the past couple seasons, Tyler Kennedy and his camp are right to be seeking $2 million or more annually on a new contract.
However, Kennedy’s agent Steve Bartlett is one of the best in the business and knows in the end, that’s an unlikely figure the Penguins are going to compromise with.
As I mentioned a few days ago, sources say a comfortable number for the Penguins is $1.4 – $1.5 million per season. Some close to the situation speculate on a 3 year deal the Penguins could be willing to give Kennedy an a similar deal they gave Alex Goligoski a few seasons ago ($1.83 million cap hit) but that remains to be seen.
The feeling around the league is that if Kennedy forces his way out of Pittsburgh due to high demands, it will be a mistake by him and possibly hinder his development.
Kennedy is in a very good situation in Pittsburgh where there won’t be immense pressure to score 20+ goals on a yearly basis.

Any team signing or acquire Kennedy would surely have different expectations and the pressure will be much greater, especially with the fan base. Is Kennedy ready to meet those kind of expectations? That is something Kennedy has to weigh.
2. GM Neal Huntington continues to get bashed by the local media and the latest came from Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cooke who on Wednesday called Huntington the Pirates “Biggest Negative”.
“It really is a lot harder to pick the Pirates’ biggest negative. Is it Pedro Alvarez? How about Lyle Overbay? Or maybe Neal Huntington?. I say Huntington, ” Cooke wrote.
“The GM signed Overbay as a free agent in the offseason. He has been a bust so far. The GM signed Matt Diaz. Bust. The GM traded for Chris Snyder last season. Bust. The GM really didn’t want to bring Walker to the big leagues last season and did so only because Aki Iwamura was such a failure after the GM traded for him and his $4.85 million contract.
“Walker looks like the Pirates’ All-Star, which is proof that it’s sometimes better for the GM to be lucky than good. The GM spent the winter unsuccessfully trying to trade for a shortstop because he knew Ronny Cedeno is maddeningly inconsistent. Cedeno has been maddeningly inconsistent. The GM spent the winter unsuccessfully trying to trade Ryan Doumit because he didn’t want to pay him $5.1 million to back up Snyder. Other than Walker, Doumit has been maybe the team’s best hitter, which strengthens the case for lucky in that lucky-vs.-good argument.”
I don’t understand how anyone can call Neal Huntington the Pirates Biggest Negative and leave Frank Coonelly out of that discussion.
I will come to Huntington’s defense in that any GM who inherited this club deserves at least five years on the job.
From the time Huntington took this club over, it was in such a deep hole that there’s no denying it’s a 5-to-7 year rebuilding period.
When asked about Huntington this week, John Perrotto said it best on 937 The Fan, stating that’s he’s working for a baseball owner who knows absolutely nothing about baseball and he’s working for Frank Coonelly who micromanages every aspect of the franchise and believes that he’s the GM of the franchise.
A big mystery is how much authority Huntington has and what moves are truly his. Everything goes through Coonelly and he’s the biggest negative.
3. Interesting comments today from ESPN’s Buster Olney on Pedro Alvarez. “Often wonder how different Alvarez’s path would’ve been if had signed right away, ” Olney said on twitter. “Gained almost nothing in $ by waiting; lost 1st season”.
“My belief is that in Alvarez’s case, it was a terrible decision by Boras to go through what he did — for relative pennies.”
“Alvarez went into pro ball amid such negativity,and fell behind in conditioning. If he’d signed right away and played,maybe different result”
I see where Buster is coming from on this but it’s hard to agree with that belief in how Alvarez hit 16 home runs in his last 78 games of the 2010 season.
4. Ike Taylor’s agent Joel Segal and Taylor’s PR firm has the Steelers cornerback on a media tour right now. Taylor has been all over the airwaves and recently appeared on the Jim Rome show.
Reasons why? Taylor and his camp feel there is a need to continue to get his name out there as the feeling is that he’s going into free agency (whenever that may be) under appreciated. They see keeping him in the media as a good thing for him.
5. The Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg is fully expected to become official next week. It’s a good move for the NHL as Gary Bettman’s vision of having teams in Southern markets hasn’t panned out.
The main thing that will plague Winnipeg is being able to put a competitive team on the ice. Agents have told me good luck finding players wanting to go there.
The beneficiary of this move could be the Columbus Blue Jackets. The buzz right now is that Columbus will move to the Eastern Conference and join the Southeast division.
The Jackets are in financial distress and this possible move would benefit them tremendously, with the likes of Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia coming into town and earlier games could also prove beneficial to the fan base. These are teams that fans in Ohio are going to have interest in and increase attendance is bound to happen.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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