Penguins GM Jim Rutherford talked at his season ending press conference last month of the Penguins having trade assets other teams would want when it comes to likely changes with the roster this summer.
26 year old winger Bryan Rust, a pending restricted free agent (technically a year away from unrestricted free agency), would be at the top of the list of non-core players on the roster who carry high trade value.
The Penguins coaching staff, though, wants to add more players like Rust, who play a speed/2-way game and Pittsburgh’s belief that Rust has sustained trade value into his mid-late 20’s is leading to the Penguins eyeing a new deal with Rust of at least [hide] four years, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
While talks remain in the preliminary stages, Pittsburgh is believed to be seeking a long-term deal in the low $3 million per season range, though, the Rust camp will surely be coming in a bit higher in the early stages of talks.
The Penguins have prioritized getting a Rust deal before the draft, sources say, but when there’s two parties things don’t always go as planned.
Pittsburgh didn’t lock up new deals with RFA’s Conor Sheary and Brian Dumoulin until well into July last summer but last summer was a bit different.
Pittsburgh is showing a much bigger appetite internally to do something big this summer, compared to last summer.
Sheary’s 3 year, $9 million contract, a deal that doesn’t look as favorable now isn’t going to have an impact on Rust talks as Pittsburgh feels Rust’ game is built beyond just putting the puck in the net, when it comes to weighing a deal with term past 1-2 years.
Rust, 26, had 13 goals and 38 points in 69 games last season. Pittsburgh believes if Rust can stay healthy, he can be 50-point+ player during his prime 26-27-28 year seasons. Rust value in the post-season was significant for the Penguins during the 2016 and 2017 postseason runs.
The versatile winger struggled in the Capitals series and there was a domino effect with the Penguins lack of production from their role players.[/hide]