Pens lost another GM-in-waiting with Botterill, but won’t rush to replace him

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Just one day after longtime assistant GM Jason Botterill was hired in Buffalo, the Penguins were asked what their replacement plan was.

Turns out they don’t have one.

On purpose.

GM Jim Rutherford explained as much to the Tribune-Review, saying that Botterill’s duties will be split among the remaining front office staffers: Bill Guerin (assistant GM), Jason Karmanos (VP of hockey ops) and Mark Recchi (player development coach).

Rutherford added he wouldn’t rush to add another person to the mix.

“It’ll depend on the comfort level I have as to whether we’re covering everything or not,” he explained.

That’s fine for the time being. Rutherford’s under contract through 2019 and has a well-stocked front office. The real story, of course, is further down the road.

Rutherford turned 68 in February, and is one of the oldest GMs in the league. Botterill looked like his natural successor, to the point where some thought he could’ve gotten the job three years ago, when the Penguins fired Ray Shero.

Now that option’s gone.

And remember, Pittsburgh’s been down this road before. Another promising young executive — Tom Fitzgerald — spent six years as the Pens’ AGM, and actually interviewed for the head job after Shero was let go. In 2015, he left the organization to reunite with Shero in New Jersey.

So now the focus turns to Guerin, who seems the most logical replacement candidate even though he’s pretty light on experience. That said, he has worn two different executive hats for Pittsburgh — as both a development coach and AGM — and is clearly well-regarded. USA Hockey tabbed him and Rangers AGM Chris Drury to run this year’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

Just don’t expect Guerin to be promoted anytime soon.

“I don’t think about [how long I’ll be here],” Rutherford said today, per Pens Inside Scoop. “So I guess I’ll be here for a while longer, whatever that means.”