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Kennedy Grateful for Shot at Top-6

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

One of the most intriguing storylines heading into Penguins training camp is who will play with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.

Chris Kunitz, who played last season with Malkin and Neal, will be reunited on a line with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis, thus leaving an opening on Malkin and Neal’s right wing.

(Getty Images)

“There will be some wiggle room with the other player in the top six,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “I can see several players fitting into that line with Malkin and Neal depending on the situation, the game, whether we’re up in a game or not. But that’s really the initial thoughts and that’s what you’ll see when we start Day 1.”

One possibility would be forward Tyler Kennedy, who is a right wing and has filled a top-6 role over the past two seasons due to various injuries. And Kennedy would love an opportunity to skate with the talents of Malkin and Neal.

“It would be a great opportunity. It seems like they’re going to give me a chance,” he said after Tuesday’s informal practice. “I want to do the best I can."

Kennedy enjoyed a career year in 2010-11 while filling in on the top two lines, posting career highs across the board with 21 goals, 24 assists, 45 points and seven power-play goals.

“I’m going to come in and compete how I would even if there wasn’t a spot there," he added. "Wherever I play I’m happy. I’m just glad to be back playing hockey."

Kennedy took advantage of the work stoppage to spend time with his family.

“I had a really good summer. It was pretty long, but it was good,” he said. “I had some quality time with my family and got to do some things I’ve never done in the fall. It was good. I’m glad to be back. I’m glad to get back on the ice with the guys.”

Kennedy, who has been training in Pittsburgh and his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, also used the extra time off to heal and improve his strength and conditioning.

“You have to take the positives. There was time to rest the body,” Kennedy said. “I feel pretty good. A good training camp and I’ll be ready to rock.”

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