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Penguins' Shero would like to retain Tyler Kennedy

Salary-cap circumstances could prevent right wing Tyler Kennedy from returning to the Penguins next season, though general manager Ray Shero said Tuesday he would "like to keep" Kennedy, an impending restricted free-agent right winger who scored a career-best 21 goals and 45 points last season.

Kennedy, who will turn 25 in July, is expected to at least double his previous salary-cap hit ($725,000) on any new contract - and that number could inch toward $2 million if he goes to arbitration. As a restricted free agent, Kennedy's rights belong exclusively to the Penguins until July 1. They can match any offer he receives after that date.

Shero said impending restricted free agents often are traded by NHL teams rather than be extended a qualifying offer that would start the path toward an arbitration hearing if a contract is not reached.

"I've told Tyler that, and I've said that in a few conversations I've had with the agent (Steve Bartlett)," Shero said. "I've told Tyler I want to have him back, but I said that and I wanted (former defensemen Hal) Gill and (Rob) Scuderi back, too."

The Penguins are committed to 17 players at a salary-cap hit of about $55 million next season. The salary cap was $59.4 million last season, but it has not been set for next season.

• Shero said he has not had "serious" discussions with agents for any of the club's impending unrestricted free agents. The franchise's professional scouting meetings are scheduled for the first week of June, and Shero said he expects to have spoken with agents for the free agents before then.

• Centers Evgeni Malkin and Dustin Jeffrey are progressing well on their rehabilitation from right-knee surgeries, Shero said. Malkin was injured in February, Jeffrey in March. Both players are expected to be ready for training camp. Jeffrey is the Penguins' other restricted free agent.

• Shero, on the success of Tampa Bay, which has used a 1-3-1 zone-trap system to reach the Eastern Conference final: "It is somewhat of a copy-cat league, but I don't want to confuse the fact that they have a good hockey team. A number of teams can (use a trap next season), but they won't have the firepower up front that the Lightning does."

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