Preliminary discussions on a new contract between Pens GM Ray Shero and Tyler Kennedy’s camp are expected to get underway next week.
It will begin a critical four week period that will dictate Kennedy’s future with the Penguins. Qualifying offers are due to players by June 27 but the real deadline for a new contract is said to be draft weekend (June 24-25), according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
With close to 55 million committed to next season, Kennedy’s situation holds up the Penguins ability to commit to Pascal Dupuis or even Max Talbot.
If talks between Shero and agent Steve Bartlett were to go south next month, the Penguins will begin exploring trade options for Kennedy.
That route is several weeks away and a trade likely wouldn’t happen until draft weekend. It’s something the Penguins are hoping to avoid as the team looks to have Kennedy locked up by the middle of June to give them ample time to approach their group of UFA’s and layout a plan for free agency.
However, the team knows trading Kennedy could become a option they are forced to explore and trading Kennedy is said to be likely if the two sides can’t find common ground on a new deal by the draft.
“In some cases you won’t go to arbitration with a player, you’ll trade the players because of the comparables. ” Pens GM Ray Shero told Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review. “The way the system is, you don’t see a lot of arbitration cases. I’ve told Tyler that, and had a few conversations about that with the agent. A lot of times you won’t qualify the players because you don’t believe the comparable fit with your cap situation.
“I’ve told him I want to have him back, but I say that and I wanted (Hal) Gill and (Rob) Scuderi back, too, ” Shero said.
Rossi reports that he has the feeling “early talks with reps for RW Tyler Kennedy leave the sides far apart on terms for a new deal” and that Kennedy’s camp is seeking $2 million annually.
When asked about the sides being far apart this evening, a source involved in the talks denied that notion saying no substantive talks have taken place or numbers being discussed, indicating that the two sides have only discussed “variables” of “Tyler’s situation.”
The Penguins are said to not have a set number in place at this point but I’m told a comfortable number for them would be a cap hit of around $1.4 – $1.5 million.