The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed their playoff wizard and two-time Stanley Cup champion forward Bryan Rust to a four-year contract worth $14 million.
The deal carries an average annual value of $3.5 million for the forward, who had a career-year after scoring 13 goals and amassing 38 points in 69 games this season. It’s a nice bump in pay for 26-year-old, who made $640,000 last season.
Rust, a third-round draft pick in 2010, became best known for his playoff scoring prowess during the Penguins back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in 2015-16 and 2016-17, scoring 13 times in 46 total games.
He’s also become quite the clutch player when facing playoff elimination, scoring 10 goals and adding an assist in 18 games.
Pittsburgh fans will remember Rust fondly for his two-goal effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the 2016 Eastern Conference final, a game the Penguins won 2-1.
Rust’s new deal puts the Penguins roughly $5 million under the cap going into next season, likely forcing them into trading away a roster player.
Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak is their lone restricted free agent (he was qualified on Monday) while they have forwards Carter Rowney, Tom Kuhnhackl and Riley Sheahan are set to become unrestricted free agents come Sunday.
Talks with Sheahan are ongoing, despite the Penguins not extending him a qualifying offer on Monday.
Carl Hagelin is set to become a UFA after next season, so perhaps his name gets thrown into the ring. He’s making $4 mill this season. The Penguins trade deadline acquisition in Derick Brassard, set to make $3 million, will also become a UFA after next season.
And there’s always that speculation about Phil Kessel that never seems to end.