Inside The Box: Potential GM replacements for the Pittsburgh Penguins

General Manager Jim Rutherford of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
General Manager Jim Rutherford of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Inside The Box is Puck Prose’s daily bulletin, covering all the latest news and providing unique analysis and insight, while highlighting the content you need in your lives.

So we’ve been given some blockbuster news today with the Pittsburgh Penguins announcing that General Manager Jim Rutherford has stepped down due to personal reasons. Now, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has reported that it isn’t due to health concerns, which is good news, but this was a major shock for everyone in the NHL.

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Rutherford has been the GM of the Penguins since the 2014-15 season and he was responsible for constructing the team that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016-17, a feat that hasn’t been achieved since. Pittsburgh made the Playoffs every single year under Rutherford and the long-time team builder was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019 for his considerable contributions to the game of hockey, including a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 where Rutherford spent nearly 20 years as GM of the Canes / Hartford Whalers franchise.

Patrik Alvin, the Assistant General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been promoted to the role of interim GM while the search for a new GM is taking place, and Alvin will be assisted by Penguins legend and Owner Mario Lemieux, who will lead the search for a new General Manager. So, that leads us into today’s Inside The Box where we will take a look at some potential candidates for the next General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Who will be the next General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Patrik Alvin

As we’ve already mentioned, Patrik Alvin will be the interim GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins while ownership conducts their search. However, with Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reporting that they will consider both external and internal options, could Alvin be in the running? With the franchise since 2006-07 having served in a number of different roles including as a scout and Director of Amateur Scouting, Alvin knows the organization inside out and he knows this current group of players well and also what is in the farm system, so he could be a good choice in ensuring that there is a smooth transition.

Ray Shero
Ray Shero (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Ray Shero

Ray Shero is of course well known to the Pittsburgh Penguins having served as their General Manager and winning one Stanley Cup with the franchise, although his time is often looked upon as a failure given that he only won one championship despite having the luxury of having both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at his disposal.

However, having had some time out of the game following his firing by the New Jersey Devils last year, Shero will no doubt be interested in returning to work and he already has a relationship with Owner Mario Lemieux and Crosby and Malkin, while he will also know the ins and outs of the organization pretty well. Plus, he made some big trades during his first stint with the Penguins having acquired the likes of Marian Hossa, James Neal and Jarome Iginla, not to mention the fact that he went all out to trade for Taylor Hall while with the Devils. So, with Pittsburgh still in win-now mode, they could be tempted to bring Ray Shero back given that he won’t be afraid to make a big move or two in order to surround Crosby and Malkin with the pieces they need to win another ring.

George McPhee
Vegas Golden Knights President of Hockey Operations and general manager George McPhee. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

George McPhee

Now, this is unlikely given that George McPhee is the current President of the Vegas Golden Knights and he’s likely got a job for life in Sin City after he built that franchise from scratch, putting a winner on the ice from day one with the Knights making a stunning run to the 2017-18 Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year.

McPhee displayed his expertise when it comes to building a team during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, spotting potential in a plethora of players who had been misused by their former teams, turning them into legit NHL stars and he also made a number of huge trades and Free Agent signings to ensure that the Golden Knights built on the momentum from their impressive first year.

So, why would McPhee want to leave Vegas? Well, having taken on another role in order to allow Kelly McCrimmon to take on the GM role with the Golden Knights so that he wouldn’t leave for another job in the NHL, McPhee may be tempted to go elsewhere in order to do the job he truly loves and that is to build a winner. His fingertips could be found all over the Washington Capitals team that won the Stanley Cup in 2017-18, beating his Vegas team ironically, while he would no doubt relish the opportunity to try to extend the window for Sidney Crosby by working his magic in Free Agency, the trade market and in the Draft.

Ron Hextall
Ron Hextall. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Ron Hextall

Out of work for a while after being sacked by the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 26, 2018, Ron Hextall will no doubt be itching to get back to doing what he loves best and he could be an interesting choice for the Pittsburgh Penguins. After all, his firing was somewhat of a surprise and his fingertips can be found all over a Flyers team that looks set to become a juggernaut in the East Division.

He did a good job of replenishing what was a barren farm system, drafting the likes of Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Carter Hart, who looks every inch the franchise goalie the Flyers have long craved. Having also played a key role in building the teams that won two Stanley Cups in LA with the Kings, Ron Hextall could not only help to put a winner on the ice now to ensure that Sidney Crosby has one more shot at a championship, but he could also rebuild a seriously depleted Pittsburgh Penguins farm system and ensure that an eventual rebuild isn’t too long or too messy. Personally, I would love to see Ron Hextall in Pittsburgh as I just see it as a perfect fit for a number of different reasons.

peter chiarelli
Peter Chiarelli (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Peter Chiarelli

Peter Chiarelli isn’t well liked in Edmonton and it isn’t a surprise given that he left one hell of a mess behind following his tenure with the Oilers, despite drafting generational talent Connor McDavid, although he doesn’t deserve credit for that because he would have been an idiot if he didn’t.

However, Chiarelli made a plethora of bad decisions with the Oilers including trading away Taylor Hall, signing Milan Lucic to a boneheaded contract and pulling the trigger on a number of moves that just mired Edmonton deeper into mediocrity. However, whenever there is a GM opening Chiarelli’s name seems to pop up, so we thought we would mention him here. He did help build the Big, Bad Boston Bruins team that won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and he’s likely to get an interview with the Pittsburgh Penguins but, with a boatload of more attractive options out there, I can’t see Chiarelli squeezing his way back into the NHL as a GM just yet.

Dean Lombardi
President, General Manager, and Alternate Governor Dean Lombardi of the Los Angeles Kings. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Dean Lombardi

Having drafted the likes of Patrick Marleau, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty and having helped the LA Kings win the Stanley Cup in both 2012 and in 2014, Lombardi has an impressive track record when it comes to player development and he also boasts a wealth of experience, which could be attractive to the Pittsburgh Penguins who need a General Manager that can help Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin win one more championship, while also rebuilding this franchise on the fly and replenishing a farm system that has very little talent in the pipeline, so Dean Lombardi could well be a perfect fit for that job.

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