Jim Rutherford said the makeup of the Pittsburgh Penguins this season in some ways resembles that of the Penguins team that won the Stanley Cup in 2016.
"We have a lineup this year that's more like the lineup we had in 2016 where there's more options for the coach to move guys around," the Penguins general manager said Saturday at the Prospects Challenge at HarborCenter. "We have a fourth line that will be able to play as a third line, so (coach) Mike Sullivan will be able to roll the lines more and not worry about who they're out there against.
"It was time to make a few changes to bring some fresh energy, and based on what I saw over the offseason and talking to different players and people in the organization and the guys who come in early, we've accomplished that."
The Penguins finished third in the Metropolitan Division (44-26-12) but were swept by the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round, prompting Rutherford to reshape the roster. They traded Phil Kessel, who had 303 points (110 goals, 193 assists) during his four seasons in Pittsburgh, to the Arizona Coyotes for forward Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph on June 29, two weeks after trading defenseman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks for 24-year-old forward Dominik Kahun.
"We made the changes that we needed to make, bring in some new energy and we feel good about it," Rutherford said. "The closer we get to camp, I see a lot more excitement not only in the players but the coaching staff and everybody in the organization, and that's really what we need."
Rutherford discussed the Penguins' outlook in an interview with NHL.com.