One of the top free agents is off the market.
The Pittsburgh Penguins made a big move to lock in one of their most important forwards, reportedly coming to terms with Bryan Rust on a six-year contract extension worth an average annual value of approximately $5.2 million.
The deal, which ties Rust to Pittsburgh through the 2027-28 season, serves as a massive boon for the Penguins ahead of what should be a busy summer, with the team getting one of their most productive scorers under contract for the next half-decade at a reasonable value.
Frankly, Rust took something of a discount with this extension.
The 30-year-old has been one of the NHL’s most underrated producers over the past few years, racking up three consecutive 20-goal seasons while scoring at roughly a point-per-game pace in two of them. Despite battling injuries, Rust is coming off a wonderful 2021-22 season, during which he managed 24 goals and 58 points in 60 games. While not having the name recognition of a Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, Rust has still proven to be a vital piece of the Penguins’ top-six, giving the crucial secondary scoring and defensive value to complement their stars.
The work is far from over in Pittsburgh, though.
While getting Rust locked up is a good start, the Penguins still have the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Evan Rodrigues, and Brian Boyle set to hit unrestricted free agency in the coming weeks, while Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen are pending restricted free agents that will need new deals of their own.
There’s only so much cap space to go around. Some of those names won’t be returning next year. But the Penguins acted early to ensure that Rust will be, showing just how much the organization seems to value him.