Penguins Upcoming Free Agent Rust Sign ’em or Trade ’em

Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Penguins have some tough decisions to make. We all know the March 21.2022 NHL Trade Deadline is fast approaching, and that means upcoming Free Agents are officially on the Trading Block.  Or are they?

Guess who is an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of 2021-2022…Yup…#17.

Would you sign him right now, to a Long-Term Deal?  To a Term Deal?  Or Trade Him?

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Let’s look at Bryan Rust #17 Right Wing, as of March 08.2022 and discuss what to do.

A 2010 Draft Pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Rust has played his entire career with Pittsburgh.  He has become a leader on this team and is a 2 x Stanley Cup Champion, 2016, 2017.

#17 has played some great hockey during his time with the Penguins.  He is used in a few situations; like standing in front of the net creating havoc, or like scoring key goals at crucial times, to name a few.  He is glue on the Crosby, Guentzel line.

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Rust #17 – By the Numbers as of March 08.2022

4th in Team Scoring with 43 Points. (18 Goals – 25 Assists = 43 Points)

2nd – Tied on the team with 18 Goals.

4th on the team with 25 Assists.

Rust ended 2021 with a goal, then entered the New Year (2022) scoring a hat-trick.  He followed that up with two, 2-goal games.  He scored 8 goals in 4 games. Wowza.

Rust is a streaky goal scorer as well as a streaky point producer.  The fact is, he does produce points.

Rust Most Points in a season 56 – 2019-2020

Rust Most Goals in a season 27 – 2019-2020

Rust Most Assists in a season 29 – 2019-2020

The Penguins rank 13th overall in the NHL in Power Play at 22.0% up from the 10.8% conversion rate in October 2021.  Rust is a big part of the Penguins Power Play.

As of January 01.2022, the Penguin Power Play is clipping at a 29.1% conversion rate, ranking #1 in the NHL over this time.

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Game Play

The Right-Handed shooting Rust is a hard-working, nose to the grindstone, “giver ‘er all I got,” type of hockey player.  Every Stanley Cup contender needs or has a few of these players.

He appears to play a dull style of game, at times.  He can however, metamorph into this silky player who can defend, make plays and finish at the net. He has a slight bad wrap, as a Brittle and often-injured player, however when healthy, shows he can play at a high level.  He is fast, strong on his skates, full of grit with sandpaper qualities, and knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup.

Rust is in the final year of his contract, making $3,500,000.  At the heart of it all, people just want to be wanted and to be shown how much they are worth or valued in an organization.

The rumor has Rust wanting to test Free Agency this summer.  I’m sad to say, it looks like #17 will not be a Penguin for Life.

Comparables as of March 08.2022

Scheifele – Wpg – Age 28 – 45 Points $6.125 Million Per Season

Jenner -CBJ – Age 28 – 44 Points $3.750 Million Per Season

Dubois – Wpg – Age 23 – 44 Points $5.0 Million Per Season

Voracek – CBJ – Age 32 – 43 Points $7.8 Million Per Season

Rust – Pitts – Age 29 – 43 Points $3.5 Million Per Season

Pittsburgh Penguins as of March08.2022

34-14-9 = 77 Points

2nd -Tied in the Metropolitan Division (Up from 7th Place in Oct)

4th Tied-in the Eastern conference (Up from 13th Place in Oct)

5th Tied-in the NHL overall (Up from 22nd overall in Oct)

Pittsburgh Penguins are holding the #3 Playoff Spot, in the Metropolitan Division (Eastern Conference).

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My View from the Cheap Seats

Rust #17 has been a really good Penguin to date. The cold hard fact is, Rust will always see IR time, given his style of play.

In 2018-2019 Rust played in 72 games.  Since then, he has played in  55, 56, and 35 games so far this year.  It’s really tough to score from the Injured Reserve List.

Rust will command big bucks as a Free Agent, and it appears this is the route he is about to take.

Trading Rust is an option, however if he is a key piece in this years run, then why trade him and disrupt the Line and Team chemistry.  (However, I would like to know what teams are willing to give up, to get #17 though.)

The Penguins are a good, solid team right now, and are ready to make a run for the Stanley Cup this year. They returned from the Abyss earlier in the season, worked out the kinks are battle-tested ready for the playoffs.  Rust #17 is a key cog in this run for the cup.

As the Penguins near closer to the March 21.2022 NHL trade Deadline, they are looking to win now as well as Win in the future.  I see this playing out in 3 ways.

1.Signing Rust to a Large Long-Term Contract, appears to be off the table as we speak.  Here is hoping that a nice run this spring changes his mind.   The Penguins are always mindful of their Cap structure, however if Malkin is open to taking less money, then maybe…

2.Signing Rust to a 3-Year Contract, matching the term left on the Crosby #87 contract, is an option, however, I think Rust wants Term and Money, which the Penguins might not want to give at this time.

3.Play out this season.  Win the Cup.  And maybe part ways if Rust wants to get rich elsewhere, which appears he does.

In my humble opinion, Rust is a valued Penguin, and I would love to keep him for the right price and the right term, however, only if it works for the roster moving forward.  It looks like this is the end of the Penguin journey for #17.  It’s been a great ride.

As you know, in todays Cap Era, a bad long-term contract can hand-cuff a franchise.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, the Penguins still have these Upcoming Free Agents to consider Signing or Trading…

The A-List

Letang #58 – Defense

Malkin #71 – Forward

Rodrigues #9 – Forward

Kapanen #42 – Forward

The B-List

…is for another time

Quote of the Day

“You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”

Kenny Rogers – The Gambler (Singer/Songwriter)