Pittsburgh Penguins: Jim Rutherford’s Patience a Welcome Trait This Offseason


For Pens fans, it may be time to sit back and watch what the Pittsburgh Penguins are doing this offseason and smile. At least for now.

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Every season, we see a contender spin out of control in a downward spiral and miss the post-season. This season brought a few, with the Boston Bruins and LA Kings being two of them. The two teams have been highly criticized for certain organizational decisions this summer, but the Bruins specifically, are giving Pittsburgh Penguins fans a reason to celebrate.

Don Sweeney is showing exactly what can happen when a franchise panics. Or, maybe he’s just trying a little too hard to put his stamp on that franchise. At this point in the offseason, the Bruins have successfully traded away yet another stud youngster in Dougie Hamilton, highly sought-after power forward Milan Lucic, and lost a very effective third line center that produces at second line rates in Carl Soderberg. In return, they’ve received a package of picks and opened up cap space. Oh, and they added Zac Rinaldo. Sounds a whole lot like a rebuild, eh?

In the eyes of many, Boston was a team that was a mere few pieces from returning to contender status. Now, they’re the laughing stock of the league, and many are finger pointing just as they did when their previous regime traded away Tyler Seguin. And, this whole time, I’ve sat back and thought, I’m really glad this isn’t the Pens.

Sure, they could retool through free agency that starts tomorrow and a series of trades throughout the summer. But, after the last few days, how much confidence do Boston fans have in Sweeney?

This easily could have been the same situation for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Jim Rutherford has yet to gain traction as a respected GM among the Pittsburgh Penguins faithful. Many still cite the Simon Despres trade as a reason to say Rutherford is a bad GM. Despite your opinions or concerns, there’s one thing that I give him a lot of credit for, so far. While he made a quick, brash decision by trading James Neal away last summer, he has been pretty concise and follows the plan that he lays out for his team.

Last summer, it would have been easy for him to do exactly what Don Sweeney is doing right now. He could have blown up the core by trading a stud defenseman like Kris Letang or offloading Evgeni Malkin for a series of prospects and picks. But, he didn’t. He assessed the team and wanted to build a more playoff-capable squad. Those decisions didn’t work out, mostly due to injuries but other factors as well, and to his credit, he has reassessed the situation and changed directions yet again.

He has admitted that he learned a lot from watching the most recent Stanley Cup Playoffs, and is now looking to build four scoring lines with skill up and down the lineup. What he didn’t do was announce a fire sale and ship off Pittsburgh’s most prolific players like some have asked for in the media and fan base. I’m personally very thankful for that.

Whether Rutherford sticks to his guns and successfully builds a deep team packed with skill remains to be seen. He certainly has the core to start with, but acquiring those pieces will be no easy task considering this summer’s weak free agent class. But, his patience and willingness to wait out the market rather than overpaying for immediate gratification is very underrated this time of year.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have their issues. But, thankfully, when you’re building around the world-class talent that they possess rather than trading them all away like some franchises have done, there’s hope. Now, the ball is in Rutherford’s court to keep on the Pens on the right path.

Next: 5 Potential Free Agent Targets in a Weak Market

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