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Insider Only Pens GM search said to be entering final stages & some rumblings around the league

You can officially call this week Pens GM Watch. All signs point to a hire being made this week, possibly even before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. While this isn’t having any impact on the Penguins making a hire, the NHL does not like big news to happen during the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Penguins search, though, is said to be reaching the final stages as league sources say the team has started informing some candidates they had spoken to that they are no longer under consideration.
Interim GM Jason Botterill remains a top contender, while talk has been consistent since Pat Brisson decided against pursuing the job, that Tampa Bay’s Julien BriseBois is very high on the Penguins list and he has indeed interviewed twice for the job. BriseBois by the way is a close friend of Brisson.
I get the sense from those close to the situation that there’s a darkhorse candidate getting strong consideration that few are talking about. Maybe Tom Fitzgerald? — who had a strong interview and someone ownership thinks very highly of. Things have been a bit too quiet on some like Canadiens assistant GM Rick Dudley and Blackhawks Assistant GM Norm MacIver.
The Penguins have discussed and looked at a number of different type of candidates, maybe as many as 12-14 names, but have not interviewed more than six candidates. With Brisson out, the search has been wide open.
Five known candidates to interview include Botterill, Fitzgerald, BriseBois, Pierre McGuire and Paul Fenton.
The mystery right now is Pierre McGuire. McGuire has had a phone interview and in-person interview with Penguins top brass. He’s a serious candidate but is he a leading candidate like he has some in the Penguins organization not involved in the search believing?
McGuire has a big mouth and there’s been a little too much smoke but there’s no denying he’s among the final candidates being considered. That much we can confirm.
One league executive who was part of a group that interviewed McGuire more than five years ago,

said Pierre is “great” in the interview process, “can really sell himself” and talked a “real good game” when it came to him laying out his vision for that organization but at the end of the day this Western Conference team just didn’t feel comfortable with McGuire and had questions about Pierre’s ability to get along with other decision makers in the organization.
“We debated him {Pierre} more than any candidate,” the exec said.
The Stanley Cup Finals is set between the LA Kings and New York Rangers after LA won in overtime last night in Game 7 over the Chicago Blackhawks. That series is how hockey is suppose to be played and it’s a shame someone had to lose.
LA goes for their second cup in three years, while Chicago misses out on a golden opportunity to win three Cups in five years. The Kings will go into the series as heavy favorite but from the Rangers end, this is a better matchup for New York and they have a shot.

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus-Dispatch, reports there’s a juicy rumor out there of R.J. Umberger to Edmonton for Sam Gagner.
Portzline writes: “Here’s a juicy one: R.J. Umberger to Edmonton for Sam Gagner. It’s out there, and it makes a lot of sense … on paper. Gagner has backpedaled since a strong start of his career, and the Oilers would love to get out from under his $4.8 million cap hit and his $5 million salary the next two seasons. As you may have read in this space previously, Umberger requested a trade at his year-end meeting with coaches and management. He has three years remaining at $4.6 million per season. The salary number is almost a match, but the Blue Jackets may still need to pay some of Umberger’s salary to help offset the third year. That’s legal under the new CBA. The Oilers want more size and grit. They could use somebody to stand in front of the net and chew up space. This could happen.”
Nothing would surprise me with what Oilers management does but what a haul Gagner would be for the up and coming Blue Jackets. Umberger has a bad contract and his body is breaking down as he has a bad back that isn’t getting any better.
The Oilers are widely believed to be looking to move a skilled player like Gagner for a power forward type winger.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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