With three second round picks to spare in today's entry draft, Doug Wilson and the Sharks shipped the 50th overall selection to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for restricted free agent forward Tyler Kennedy, the first significant trade of draft day and one that seems like a very good one for San Jose.
BREAKING NEWS: #Pens acquire 2013 2nd-round pick (50th overall) from San Jose in exchange for Tyler Kennedy— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 30, 2013
Kennedy isn't the 2nd best player in the NHL but he's one of the league's best third-line wingers and is vastly underrated in that role. A tenacious forechecker with speed, Kennedy takes more shots than Mike Richards at a bachelor party, ranking 3rd among forwards league-wide in even-strength shots on goal per 60 minutes over the past five seasons. That mostly stems from his elite possession ability as he and Jordan Staal were a formidable tandem for the Penguins for four seasons, primarily deployed by Dan Bylsma against opposing team's best forwards in a role that they crushed. When Kennedy and Staal were on the ice together at even-strength from 2008 through 2012, the Penguins scored 60.4% of the goals and earned 56.4% of the shot attempts as Kennedy individually scored north of two points per 60 minutes. The Sharks are likely hoping he'll be able to recreate some of that magic on a line with another terrific two-way center in Joe Pavelski.
While Kennedy is coming off a fairly disappointing regular season in 2013, which is presumably why the cost to acquire him was relatively cheap and he shouldn't be expensive to sign as a restricted free agent, he did score 5 points in 9 playoff games. More importantly, he ranks 80th among forwards in 5v5 points per 60 minutes since 2008. San Jose's biggest issue this past season was a lack of even-strength offense (they finished 28th in the league in 5v5 goals), and particularly a dearth of offensive contributions from the bottom six. No one player can right that ship but Kennedy would go a long way towards doing so with a rebound year. While the pick the Sharks acquired from Pittsburgh for Douglas Murray is technically the 58th, the final transaction is more or less Murray for Kennedy and a 2nd. Any way you slice it, that's a hell of a trade.