Tyler Kennedy and Ryan Stone want to make it to the NHL.
However, they will have to remain healthy to have a chance at that goal. Injuries dampened their 2006-07 seasons as the two combined to play just 81 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“They made progress, but it’s hard to say how much due to injuries,” said Penguins Assistant General Manager Chuck Fletcher, who oversees Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
In his first professional season, Kennedy, Pittsburgh’s 2004 fourth-round pick (99th overall), missed time with injuries in November and late January and early February before he was shut down for the season after only 40 appearances.
He was very effective in those games, though, as he racked up 37 points (12+25) and had a plus-15 rating. At one point, the 5-foot-10, 183-pound center had a seven-game scoring streak and was named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week on Jan. 7.
“Kennedy had the second half of his year taken away by a problem that was eventually diagnosed as a sports hernia. He had a tremendous season, though,” Fletcher said. “At the time of his injury, he was arguably our best player and arguably our best prospect. He was creating points; he was using his speed to forecheck and kill penalties; he was really showing a complete two-way game and an impressive one at that for a first-year player. I think Tyler should be proud of his season and certainly he’s a player that can build upon that. He may be closer to playing in the NHL than we think.”
Meanwhile, Stone battled all season to overcome an injury and suffered another in the process as he sat out 32 games (Nov. 25-Feb. 10) with a wrist injury.
The Penguins’ 2003 second-round pick (32nd overall), finished with 33 points (7+26) in 41 games in his second pro season. He added 86 penalty minutes and finished with a plus-5 rating. He appeared in 10 playoff games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and had five points (2+3) and 21 penalty minutes.
“As for Ryan Stone, he just had a really tough season due to injuries. He started the year kind of racing back from an offseason hernia surgery in August and he was barely ready to play when training camp opened,” Fletcher said. “He ended up hurting his hand and missed some time during the middle of the season. He just never seemed to get on track.
“He played well, at times, and at other times, he just seemed like he was behind the play a little bit, probably due to missing summer training last year and missing a large portion of the season. He has a big summer ahead of him and he has a big challenge to get in the best shape of his life and come to camp healthy and finally show what he can do as a healthy, fit player.”