Penguins re-sign forward Bryan Rust to 6-year contract extension

Penguins re-sign forward Bryan Rust to 6-year contract extension

On Tuesday, Bryan Rust hinted that he had surpassed his previous contract.

Four days later, Penguins management showed they agreed with Rust’s sentiment.

Late Saturday night, the team announced that they had re-signed the top veteran winger to a six-year contract extension worth a total of $30.75 million.

The deal, which begins next season and runs through the 2027-28 season, will carry a salary cap of $5.125 million.

Rust, 30, is in the final year of a four-year contract with a $3.5 million salary cap.

Last season, the right-hander set a career-high 58 points (24, four goals, 34 assists) in just 60 games while averaging 18:46 of ice time per game.

Primarily deployed on a line with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, the team’s two top centers, Rust has hit the 20-goal mark in each of the previous three seasons, although all three were limited due to the pandemic or Rust health issues.

Able to play on both wings, Rust has mostly been used on the team’s top line as well as the top power-play unit for the past two seasons.

During Tuesday’s Penguins exit interviews in Cranberry, Rust said he wants to stay with the Penguins despite being an unrestricted free agent pending this offseason.

“I would love to come back to the team,” Rust said. “I, obviously, love it here. Pittsburgh is a place I’ve been here for a while. I have a lot of memories, I started my family here and all that. This place holds a special place in my heart.”

A third-round pick (80th overall) in 2010, Rust has spent some or all of the last eight seasons with the Penguins at the NHL level and was a key player in the franchise’s Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017.

“(Rust) has been a really valuable player for our team during his time here,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. He’s one of our most versatile players, he’s one of our best penalty killers, he plays on the power play. We play it in all situations. He was a very valuable player for our team and our organization. He has really evolved with his leadership qualities.

“He works extremely hard, he trains hard, his training habits are off the charts. He just does things the right way. He learned from some of our (main players) who have been here, who have built that culture. (Rust) is one of those who I think has not only benefited from that culture, but has also begun to share that responsibility of making sure we all live up to the standard of excellence that has been created here.

With Rust signed, the Penguins have 12 remaining players who are expected to become unrestricted free agents when the NHL’s free agent signing period opens on July 13. The two most important members of this group are striker Evgeni Malkin and defender Kris Letang.

The others are forwards Anthony Angello, Brian Boyle, Michael Chaput, Rickard Rakell, Evan Rodrigues, defenders Nathan Beaulieu, Taylor Fedun, Juuso Riikokla goalkeepers Casey DeSmith and Louis Domingue.

Having been a productive player in recent seasons, Rust has made no secret of his desire to get a raise with his next contract.

“I think for me, I’m just getting to a point where I feel like I got what I’ve earned and what I think I’m worth,” Rust said. “I feel like I’ve played at a higher level than what my contract provided for the past few years. Going forward, getting something fair and I feel like it will benefit me and my my family to move forward.

“I’m not looking to rob anyone. I just want what I consider fair and a reasonable contract. I think and hope that something will work out.

Seth Rorabaugh is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Seth by email at srorabaugh@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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