The Pittsburgh Penguins search for a new general manager continues on and while the list of candidates is pretty well known at this point, but figuring out who has the edge for the job is tricky.
There’s not a lot of talk coming out of Pittsburgh about the direction things are headed as Penguins brass including Mario Lemieux, Joe Burkel, and David Morehouse are keeping mum.
All that means is there’s plenty of speculation to go around. Hall of Fame writer Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has about as much credibility as anyone regarding the team and he ranked the top five candidates for the position.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill was his top choice.
“Sometimes, the best answer is the most obvious one, and that might well be the case here. Botterill was Shero’s assistant and has handled every conceivable duty, from negotiating contracts to evaluating free agents, during five seasons in that role. He is regarded as one of the top young front-office talents in the league, and it’s a given that he will be a general manager sometime soon. There appears to be no good reason that it shouldn’t happen now. Here.”
As for the rest of his top five, Lightning assistant GM Julien BriseBois came in second, Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton was third, NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire fourth, and fellow Pens assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald fifth.
The common thread with that group is none of them have been in the top GM position before. All five are or have been assistant GMs. Pittsburgh looking for some new blood at the executive ranks may seem like a curious move, but a fresh set of eyes can do a lot of good.
Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis (pictured) has some big decisions to make now that he’s not bringing back now former general manager George McPhee.
Finding a new GM is something the Capitals haven’t had to do since 1997 when McPhee was brought in and, fortunately for Leonsis, there are a lot of qualified people to choose from.
CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley ran down a list of names that immediately jumped to mind. Gormley’s list includes some names that came up during the Buffalo Sabres’ search for a new GM including Boston Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning and Nashville Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton. Former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis is a curious name as is Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Julien Brisebois.
We ran down a list of other names when we took a look at who might be up for the Canucks GM position. Ones that stand out there include Canucks “capologist” Laurence Gilman, Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill, and San Jose Sharks assistant GM Joe Will.
One name to keep an eye on? Phoenix Coyotes assistant GM Brad Treliving. Treliving was also in on the Sabres job that ultimately went to Tim Murray and he along with Benning were virtual finalists for that position.
Don Maloney has done a great job with the Coyotes and Treliving’s experience working with him could provide the sort of blueprint Leonsis is looking for in Washington.
The rise of the 21-year-old Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis as well as the Lightning calling on Cedrick Desjardins while Anders Lindback and Ben Bishop dealt with injuries left their 2006 first-round pick Riku Helenius out in the cold.
Now it appears the team is ready to send Helenius packing.
Lindsay Kramer of Syracuse.com reports the Lightning put Helenius on unconditional waivers and will release him if/when he passes unclaimed at noon on Sunday. Lightning assistant general manager Julien Brisebois says they’re severing ties with Helenius for breach of contract.
Helenius found himself at the short end of the stick in the Lightning organization after the team acquired Bishop and Lindback and now with Desjardins and Gudlevskis getting looks over him, time was running out for Helenius to prove himself. He hasn’t played for Syracuse since Nov. 27.
Facing these kinds of road blocks can be frustrating and if the report is true, refusing to go down to the ECHL won’t do him any favors of landing elsewhere anytime soon.