Penguins re-sign Bryan Rust, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang remain in limbo

nhl rumors
Mar 27, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) and defenseman Kris Letang (58) congratulate center Evgeni Malkin (71) on his goal against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguin took cate of one of their top unrestricted free agents on Saturday. Forward Bryan Rust agreed to a new six-year extension worth $30.75 million. GM Ron Hextall announced the deal that comes with an AAV of $5.125M.

“Bryan exemplifies what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin,” said Hextall in a statement. “Since being drafted by Pittsburgh, he has developed into a versatile player and leader on our team, capable of contributing in any situation. His leadership qualities and experience as a two-time Stanley Cup champion is an important piece of our team.”

Penguins sign Bryan Rust

Rust, 30, recorded 24 goals and 58 points in 60 games this season for the Penguins. The Michigan native was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2010 and was part of their back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 2016 and 2017.

He’s considered one of their most consistent players having registered 156 points in 171 games for the last three years. For his career, Rust has 270 points in 424 games played.

“Rusty is one of those guys that I think not only benefited from that culture, but also has started to share in that responsibility of making sure that we all live up to the standard of excellence that’s been created here,” head coach Mike Sullivan said on break up day. “So that’s what he means, I think, to our organization. He’s a very good player. He had a terrific year for us. He’s been a valuable part of this organization.”

Malkin and Letang in limbo

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Jan 10, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) celebrates his goal with defenseman Jack Johnson (3) and defenseman Kris Letang (58) and center Dominik Kahun (24) and center Evgeni Malkin (71) in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins have a number of players that are free agents this summer.

  • Evgeni Malkin (UFA)
  • Kris Letang (UFA)
  • Kasperi Kapanen (RFA)
  • Rickard Rakell (UFA)
  • Evan Rodrigues (UFA)
  • Brian Boyle (UFA)
  • Nathan Beaulieu (UFA)
  • Casey DeSmith (UFA)
  • Louis Domingue (UFA)

According to CapFriendly, the Penguins have around $23.9 million in cap space to sign those players.

Of course, Malkin and Letang would eat a large portion of that money which is why there’s some doubt as to what happens next with them.

Talk has both Malkin and Letang heading for unrestricted free agency on July 13 after a report surfaced that Pittsburgh offered them a 3 year-deal worth $5M AAV each. Both considered the offer to be too low.

Letang, 34, completed the final season of a contract that came with an AAV of $7.25 million. This year, he’s registered 68 points in 78 games. There are rumors of him signing with the Montreal Canadiens in the offseason.

Malkin, 35, finished the year with 42 points in 41 games. He wrapped up a deal worth $9.5M AAV against the cap. Where he lands is anybody’s guess but he’s made it clear that staying in Pittsburgh is his preference.