A Rust Extension Should be a Priority

Bryan Rust might be in quite an intriguing place in how it relates to the success of the Pittsburgh Penguins presently and potentially the future of the franchise as well. The 25 year old winger has had a successful 2017-18 campaign so far playing on the wing with two of The Penguins best players, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin. Whether it is due to the talent around him or part of the development of young players he has put up a stat line of 1 goal, 7 assists, and overall 8 points in this young season, which ties him for 31st in the league in points and 8th in the league in assists. Not really Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin type of production by any stretch but it will serve given the fact that it is a huge bargain compared to similar production and the price tag associated with it across the league.

Although there is theoretical interpretation to what Rust’s natural position is, he has played majority of his games on the right wing. So to make this nice and clean that is the position we will list him as. Right wing is a position across the league that is heavy with goal scoring talent due to the majority of NHL goalies being right handed and carrying their gloves on the left hand, making it an enticing target down the natural wing especially for left handed shots. The large collective goal numbers comes associated with huge dollars as well. Patrick Kane leads the cap hit among right wingers with 10.5 Mil followed by Corey Perry, Jakub Vorachek, and Vladimir Tarasenko who make an average of 7.5+ Mil in cap hit. Out of the four listed players only Kane and Tarasenko have more points than Rust currently. Rust’s contract has less zero’s attached to it, signing a 2 year extension during his 2nd year in 2015-16. He makes for a team friendly 640 K which is 104th highest among active Right Wingers. Basically he is giving you steak production for the hamburger price.

Rust, who enters his 3rd full season with Pittsburgh and in a contract year that would likely make him a restricted free agent if no move is made. This would of course expose him to be able to sign by another team with compensation coming The Pens way if a deal is reached outside the organization.

Will a team give Rust “Patrick Kane” type money?
NO!

Will a team potentially over pay to get his services?
Likely.

This is why the Pens need to turn their focus to potentially reaching an extension with the Pontiac, MI native. The fact that he has had success thus far in the 2017-18 season and the fact that he was a playoff warrior and huge contributor to the consecutive two Stanley Cups with 13 Goals and 5 Assists between the two years looms large to the team’s interest both currently and preemptively.

This all could be a exercise of futility if the Pens can’t reach a deal with Rust before the end of the season or if there isn’t appropriate cap space to accommodate the production value of him, but its an avenue worth exploring. As demonstrated by the expansion draft where the Pens left Rust exposed and then paid the Las Vegas Golden Knights a draft pick to prevent him from being taken, his services are coveted. Lets just hope that those service can stay in Pittsburgh a little while longer.