After trading Phil Kessel for Alex Galchenyuk and a perspective there is an undeniable tendency to Pittsburgh Penguins. Much like Jim Rutherford re-accounted for almost the entire roster from 2014 when he took over just two years later in 2016 when they won the Stanley Cup.
Just look at the game of Game 7 vs NYR in 2014, the last game in the Ray Shero / Dan Bylsma era:
Except for the three star stars in this pen's era (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang) , Olli Maatta and Chris Kunitz survived the next two years to play a role in the 2016 Cup race. Marc-Andre Fleury was on the team, but served as a backup, even though he was functionally replaced by that point.
Now with the changes that were made – like the trade Kessel and Maatta this low season, it seems that Rutherford is again fresh around the core of the team around their big stars.
The biggest move to date, and probably was the greatest move of this whole season for Pittsburgh last night sending Kessel to Coyotes for Alex Galchenyuk. Though it shouldn't be shining over this, it couldn't have been a wise move to end up with the short end of the talent stick. Now, let's notice the inevitable that the pens highlighted a 32-year-old for a 25-year-old in trading.
This is the continuing trend we have seen from Rutherford over the past year – an attempt to be young. He records Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan to Jared McCann (23 years) and Nick Bjugstad (almost 27 years) earlier this year. What started this season as soon as 31 years old. Carl Hagelin was 27-year-old Erik Gudbranson.
Switching Maatta (25) to Dominik Kahun (23) is not a huge difference in age, but certainly is in foot frequency and player style and helps the pens play a faster game as well.
Pittsburgh has also seen some young player growth, although it is hardly comparable to the wave of 2016, which saw Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Matt Murray (and soon Jake Guentzel) evolve into big different players. Nevertheless, they have had a development out of young people like Marcus Pettersson (23), Teddy Blueger and Zach Aston-Reese. Blueger looks in-line to replace Matt Cullen (42) as the team's full-time fourth-line center starting next season.
At the beginning of the 2018-19 season, James Mirtle of The Athletic had Pittsburgh at an average age of 28.7, second oldest throughout the NHL. By a quick count (and in the summer's birthdays for players like Malkin and Crosby) and the 20 players, the pens under contract / RFA form up to 27.2 years until now 2019-20.
Considering that they still have a bunch of players from 2018-19 who remain in 2019-20, one year older, it is an amazing turn and youth movement to be on the road to make the team a full year younger, despite a year going.
Rutherford could always look to add a veteran to the mix, but there is no doubt that overall, over the last six or seven months, his efforts to update the pens have turned to make the team much younger than what They entered the 2018-19 season.