Penguins begin GM search, Devils' Fitzgerald not expected to interview

Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman discuss the Penguins searching for a new GM, Sam Bennett wanting a trade and much more.

The speed at which the Pittsburgh Penguins are hoping to fill the void left by Jim Rutherford may prevent them from getting a shot at their No. 1 candidate.

In Saturday night's "Headlines" segment on Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet's Chris Johnston said the team's search for a new general may be affected by timing as it is looking to replace Rutherford, who resigned Wednesday, as soon as possible, even in the next few weeks.

"If they do that they might not have a shot at all the available candidates, someone like Tom Fitzgerald, for example, who is working in New Jersey (with the Devils)," said Johnston.

Fitzgerald, who has a long-term deal with the Devils, but is only on a one-year contract to be the team's GM, is a "bit of a wild-card" in the Penguins' search, but is unlikely to be involved.

"If he was available, I think he would be at the top of the Penguins' list, but my understanding is the Devils are not inclined to allow Fitzgerald to interview. The word is they consider him a big part of their future, so I don't think he's going to be part of this," explained Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman on "Headlines."

With Fitzgerald likely out of the running, Johnston suggested Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby and former Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. could be candidates.

"Mellanby's been up for GM jobs in the past, I know he's of interest to the Penguins and Mario Lemieux, the Penguins' owner, is quite involved in this process and he's also, of course, pretty good friends with Marc Bergevin, who is Mellanby's boss in Montreal, so I think there could be a tie there," said Johnston.

"There's some thought in Pittsburgh that (Ferguson Jr.) might also mirror the Mike Sullivan situation, got a chance very early in his career at being a GM in Toronto when he was just 36 years old but he's had a lot of time since then and might ready for another kick at the can," he added.

Friedman also suggested the Penguins could reach out to Theresa Feaster, who made history earlier this month as the first female assistant coach at the world juniors and won gold with the U.S.

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