Not much has been written or said about the flaming hot seat for Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford but the moment word leaked about the ownership group working with Morgan Stanley to find a new majority owner for the team, it had to signal a pretty stark reality for the 66-year old that his tenure could be over as quick as it started.
As Mike Darnay wrote, Rutherford has made quite an impression in just over a year on the job turning over the roster to fix the issues left by Ray Shero.
It hasn't always been easy or smooth with the short term comments during his introductory press conference, the salary cap gamble forcing the team to play shorthanded down the stretch, his publicized comments telling Tribune Review columnist Rob Rossi to go sell ice cream, visibly arguing among the team's front office personnel at the draft, and maybe worst of all, internal sniping among those in Rutherford's supposed span of control that question his ability to run this team.
It isn't a healthy situation but all Rutherford has done is change a roster desperately needing an infusion of talent on the wings, speed, toughness, and depth.
Upon his hire, this was initially viewed as a likely two year stint. Rutherford might not feel that way, though his wife and son will have something to say about that, but fueling this view is more about the environment that surrounds Rutherford. It might be wise for those in the organization to spend less time chirping the old man and more on taking notes on how to run a team based on a philosophy of the team's makeup. Otherwise, your possible promotion might point you as the idiot without Rutherford to blame.
Pascal Dupuis Impact
No one knows what Dupuis can give the Penguins this season but expecting a 36-year old coming off a major knee injury and two blood clot incidents to be slotted into a role more than a third line winger would be unwise to say the least.
Tuesday's moves trading Brandon Sutter and rights to Buffalo's 2016 third round pick to Vancouver Canucks for forward Nick Bonino, defensemen Adam Clendening, and 2016 second round pick, then immediately signing former Washington Capitals forward Eric Fehr to a three year, $6 million deal.
The additions of Bonino and Fehr will give the Penguins much needed depth in the bottom six but don't underestimate the importance of guys like this being able to easily step into a top six role due to an injury or coach's decision to get a lineup change to mix up the routine.
Now the Penguins have two guys who can play center or wing, but due to Dupuis' health and unknown physical condition to withstand a grueling 82-game schedule and be able to battle for 16 wins in the playoffs, it lessens the team's dependency to force Dupuis into the lineup when he needs a game or two off.
Future of David Perron
Now that Sutter is gone, the new kids on the block most certainly will be Perron and Beau Bennett.
The team figures to start the season with Fehr on the injured reserve due to his elbow surgery in June, which should give both players an opportunity to earn playing time in the top nine. The salary cap could force the team to move Perron if he's moved to the third line, especially when Fehr returns and Dupuis doesn't show any sign of fatigure or injury concerns.
If Perron produces in whatever role he gets, the cap situation has to be alievated by another means (i.e. Chris Kunitz, Rob Scuderi). Rutherford cannot afford a repeat of what happened last season.