Bjugstad was limited to only 13 games this season due to a core-muscle injury that required surgery. He was out of the lineup from the end of November to early March and returned for three games before suffering an unrelated lower-body injury on March 8. At the time of the NHL shutdown, he was considered week-to-week.
Rutherford also had an update on winger Jake Guentzel, who had shoulder surgery on Dec. 31. Guentzel’s original recovery timeline was four to six months and Rutherford says the team is hoping he can play whenever the NHL returns to the ice.
“Jake is going through his rehab. Things are progressing fine,” Rutherford said. “We still have a ways to go before we start playing. We are optimistic that he will be ready to play.”
On Tuesday, Gary Bettman announced the NHL’s Return to Play plan which included confirmation that when play resumes, it will be in two hub cities each hosting 12 teams from one conference. Pittsburgh was one of the 10 cities named as in contention to be a hub, but Rutherford said the team will play anywhere.
“I’m open to wherever we play,” he said. “From the Penguins point of view, we meet the guidelines [of a host city]. We have a state of the art facility at the UPMC Lemieux Center. We meet the criteria, but understand that other teams do too. We just have to prepare to play.”