It's easy to argue for a few names acquired under Rutherford that have been most important in the Pens playoff success thus far, but we'll start with Matt Cullen.
Cullen, 39, was signed in free agency on August 6th, 2015 on a one-year $800,000 contract. It's rare a 39 year old (38 at the time of his contract signing) gets another chance in the NHL but this move is certainly at the top of the list for best moves Rutherford made as the Pittsburgh General Manager.
Cullen has two goals and two assists for four points in eight playoff games so far in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The numbers aren't, "wow factor" numbers but his goals always seem to come when they are needed most.
While most teams were searching for the best free agent signing last July 1st, Rutherford was working the phone lines to Toronto to get right winger Phil Kessel.
Kessel's start to the season under then Head Coach Mike Johnston was rocky at best but the noted hot dog enthusiast really took off under Head Coach Mike Sullivan. So far in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs he has three goals and five assist in eight games.
Good news is Kessel is signed through 2021-2022.
Pittsburgh's David Perron was struggling to score. As was Anaheim's Carl Hagelin. A change of scenery seemed necessary for both struggling stars and that's exactly what they got on January 15th. Perron and defenseman Adam Clendening headed to Anaheim for the services of Carl Hagelin. Not a chance that Rutherford regrets that trade.
Hagelin has recorded three goals and two assists for five points in eight postseason games in 2016. Another player that seemingly scores at the right times.
So much so that Hagelin has been often referred to as, "Swagelin" mostly due to his long blonde hair and how combined with his confident play, has really helped the Penguins succeed.
More good news: Hagelin is signed through 2018-2019 as well.
Way back when in 2014 when the Pittsburgh Penguins hired Rutherford, he acquired Patric Hornqvist just three weeks into his tenure.
Hornqvist didn't exactly have the most enjoyable postseason in 2015 but 2016 has been a different story. He's recorded four goals and two assists in eight post season games. Half those goals have come via seeing eye deflections that test the limits of human hand eye coordination.
Arguably the most productive Penguin flying under the radar this postseason has been center Nick Bonino who has recorded one goal and eight assists for nine points in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Jim Rutherford was also responsible for the hiring of Head Coach Mike Johnston. Not much needs to be said for that hiring as the teams 180 degree turnaround during the latter parts of the regular season and making quick work of the Rangers speaks for itself.