Good question. The first question that needs to be addressed is what kind of forecheck system do you employ? If it's aggressive, then speed, work ethic, determination become a high requirement. Weird...do we have any one on this team that works his ass off and nothing else? Oh that's right! 48. People wonder (well, they don't, they just complain) why TK has been less effective this year and there's lot of factors but one of them is: we aren't this forecheck machine anymore.
Pucks that are deemed "unwinnable" are not pursued like they used to be. Instead, we often set up in a 1-2-2 type of formation and then whatever happens, happens, because we aren't a disciplined, ahem, "trapping" team. A buzzword I don't much care for. Anyhow...so that leaves Kennedy in an awkward spot, that is: not skating at 100 MPH (don't look it up...it's like a 160 km/h or so
). There's a second chance to be useful though, and that's jumping passes and forcing turnovers...unfortunately, though, Kennedy is not smart. So he can't anticipate what passes are going to happen. So that's out...and honestly, at this point, he might as well just turn around and start backchecking and hope the puck starts going forward again.
So there's that. Now. In our hybrid system of "sometimes aggressive, other times not, and still other times something in between" it becomes difficult to find a player that fits that bill...you need speed and smarts...Pascal Dupuis has a good amount of both...needless to say, he's doing well for himself here. Cody Eakin, the player acquired by Dallas for Mike Ribeiro, is just a delight in this respect. Totally gets it, forecheck demon, backcheck extraordinaire, has some finishing skills. Jannik Hansen fits this mold...young Claude Giroux (before he got famous) fit this mold as we full well know from that playoff series, Darren Helm - from another playoff series we also know. Daniel Paille in Boston fits this description. Carl Hagelin is one of the fastest players in the NHL, he's pretty smart too.
Now, finding players like this that are available, well, that's another story...the Penguins probably didn't go hard after hockey sense because they were just gonna work the other team to death...now that the coaching is evolving and the system is evolving, you have a bunch of players without hockey sense that aren't fitting in all at the same time Engelland, Niskanen, Bortuzzo, Kennedy all don't have the slightest clue as to what could happen out there next...it will soon become a problem if it isn't there already...