Bryan Rust staying in Pittsburgh
It was another disappointing conclusion to the National Hockey League campaign for the Pittsburgh Penguins who were eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs by the New York Rangers. Despite the Penguins taking a commanding 3-1 series lead, they failed to get the job done and allowed the Rangers to win three consecutive games.
However, as the battle for the game’s most prestigious prize continues to take place with the teams that are still alive the Penguins have already begun to prepare for next season. With captain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both in their mid-thirties, time is quickly running out for the franchise to win another Stanley Cup with the two legends still around. The franchise did make a big statement of intent on Sunday though, securing the services of Bryan Rust for the next six years.
The 30-year-old’s contract was up following a career year that saw him score 24 goals to go along with his 34 assists. However, he was only on a $3.5m per season deal and was expecting to get a significant raise. While many Penguins fans were concerned the team couldn’t afford to sign Rust to an extension, those fears were put to rest with the announcement that the veteran had agreed to a six-year extension worth an average of $5.125m per season.
“Bryan exemplifies what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin,” Pittsburgh general manager Ron Hextall said in a team statement. “His leadership qualities and experience as a two-time Stanley Cup champion is an important piece of our team.”
Rust’s deal is worth a total of $30.75m and will expire following the 2027-28 NHL campaign. The forward has spent his entire career in Pittsburgh with the Penguins after the organization drafted him in the third-round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft with the 80th overall selection. He had signed two extensions with the club prior to the one announced on Sunday, agreeing to a four-year deal worth $3.5 million/per season after the 2017-18 campaign. He had made it clear that he preferred to remain in Pittsburgh, but had commented recently that “I played at a higher level than what my contract has said the last few years”, via CBC.
Penguins’ fans will be relieved to have the 30-year-old back in the lineup next season, considering all the success he has had in Pittsburgh during his time there. Rust has helped the organization win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. However, the Penguins have failed to make it past the opening round of the playoffs since the 2018-19 campaign and are desperate to make another deep playoff run while they still have the likes of Crosby and Malkin playing.
Rust’s extension does ensure some consistency within the Penguins’ organization though and guarantees that they will be back next year with much of the same firepower that they displayed throughout the 2021-22 season. It also means that unless Rust is traded along the way, he could end up spending his entire professional career in Pittsburgh.