A story line that’s bound to grow in the months (and years) to come will be whether or not Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill gets his own chance to be a general manager somewhere. Today when Buffalo announced they’ve let go long-time GM Darcy Regier, Botterill’s name has already come up (although only locally):
Botterill, 37, is a rising star in NHL management circles. He graduated from the University of Michigan, was a 1st round draft pick but only played 88 career NHL games before concussions ended his playing career in 2005. However, it’d far from be the end of his life in hockey, as Botterill has worked with the NHL offices and also as a scout with the Dallas Stars. He also found time to get his MBA from Michigan after his playing days concluded and has been an employee of the Penguins since 2007, first as "director of hockey administration" and then was promoted in 2009 to Assistant GM once Chuck Fletcher got hired by the Minnesota Wild as GM.
Botterill’s fingerprints are all over some recent financial maneuverings the Penguins have had to utilize to stay cap compliant in recent years - most memorably when the team sent NHL-ready Eric Tangradi to Wheeling of the ECHL just before the 2010-11 regular season - a complex move designed to maximize flexibility in the wake of the Jordan Staal LTIR situation. That exact scenario was virtually repeated (with Beau Bennett and Tomas Vokoun replacing Tangradi and Staal this time around) just a few weeks ago.
That financial expertise, plus the six years in the Penguins organization (4+ as right-hand man to GM Ray Shero) will help Botterill’s resume and reputation as a rising star. Ray Shero himself was an assistant GM for 13 years, it often takes a long time for management types to be able to get the perfect opportunity and have the connection with a team’s upper, upper management (the owners, team president) in order to finally get that general manager job.
Already there is talk about Paul Fenton (who has Ray Shero’s old job of Nashville assistant GM) and some other highly regarded agents (like Don Meehan) that may be interested in trying to switch sides of the aisle and work for a team. It’s also about personal connections and who a candidate knows, especially in the tight-knit hockey world. New Sabres President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine could have an existing relationship or an idea in mind for any number of different candidates. Botterill may be in the discussion, but it’s a long line of qualified people that would also be in the mix.
Regardless of whether or not Jason Botterill is being considered by the Buffalo Sabres, his name will continue to be brought up more and more in the future, and it won’t be long until he starts receiving interviews and serious consideration for the prime position of being an NHL GM.