Welcome to Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors, where we cover all the hot topics about the club and dive into more than just box scores. Get ready for some rapid-fire headlines that will run us through all the noise surrounding Pittsburgh’s beloved Penguins.
Penguins and Veteran Forward Are Not Talking About a Contract Extension
Bryan Rust, who returned from an extended break this weekend, scored a hat-trick in his return against the San Jose Sharks. His future as a Penguin is uncertain, even though he will be an important part of the remainder of this season in Pittsburgh. According to Jimmy Murphy, Boston Hockey NowRust, team management and team have not been able to reach a consensus on a contract extension. Murphy notes the Boston Bruins have a ton of interest in the forward and should a trade be on the horizon, there’s potential the Bruins make an offer. Personallly, I see zero chance of this. Ron Hextall & Brian BurkePittsburgh may end up facing a rival in Eastern Conference if they trade their right-winger, especially their first-line right-winger.
The forward at 29 years old is making a splash. Rust scored 14 points in 13 games played in 2021-22. He earned $3.5 million for this season. He’s shown the ability to go from a fourth-line role player to a consistent 20-goal scorer who can produce on the first line with Sidney Crosby. Rust will be paid next summer. It just might not be in Pittsburgh.
Penguins’ Moving Rust makes Zero Sense
To me, I don’t see management moving Rust before the March 21 trade deadline. It is clear that the Penguins want to win the Stanley Cup, and it makes no sense to move your first-line winger regardless of their contract status. Rust could be available depending on how much Evgeni malkin makes with his new contract. Malkin recently stated that he’s a rich guy and that money won’t be a factor, so we’ll have to wait to see just how much money is left under the cap. But at this point, Penguins fans should enjoy this season because there’s a chance it’s his last with the team.
Penguins Goalie Trade More Likely
The Penguins almost lost the game due to the collapse. San Jose SharksCasey DeSmith isn’t getting the job done. After Pittsburgh scored a record 6-1 in their first period, the backup netminder gradually but surely opened the door for the Sharks to get back into the hockey game.
DeSmith would make just 18 saves on 23 shots, and has now a 3-3-1 record and a 3.32 goals against average. He also has a.894 save rate. Your backup goalie doesn’t have to steal wins as your number one starter does, but they have to command the ability to keep your team in the game. Unfortunately for the Penguins, and their 30-year-old backup, that hasn’t been the case at all this season.
Related: Penguins’ Rodrigues NHL’s Most Improved Player
The Penguins will need to find an NHL starter who can complement Tristan Jarry, and someone who is able to move with the crease in the event that their starter gets hurt or becomes stuck in COVID protocol. The good news for Pittsburgh, Jarry is out of COVID protocol now and back in practice on Tuesday. However, the bad news is that they still need to find a better-suited backup goalie.
There are some names that may be available, including Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin from the Dallas Stars and Petr Mrazek of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Semyon Varlamov from the New York Islanders. Because of their cap crunch and limited resources to trade, don’t expect the Penguins to land any of the big names listed. Instead, the likes of Wedgewood and the two Stars netminders are much more likely on the team’s radar.
Dueling Hat Tricks Help Penguins Stay Hot
The Penguins beat the Sharks on Sunday to win their eighth consecutive game. They were led by Evan Rodrigues and Rust, who scored hat-tricks. The former’s fifth career three-goal game was his fifth, while Rodrigues’ first career hat trick was his first. He’s become one of the most surprising stories across the entire NHL and the pending unrestricted free agent is setting himself up to be paid handsomely this summer. Two Penguins players recorded a hat-trick in the same game, for the eighth consecutive time in their history. The most recent was recorded during the Penguins’ 9-2 win at Mellon Arena against New York Islanders Dec. 11, 2008. Three goals were scored by Petr Sykora and Pascal Dupuis, both forwards.
After almost two weeks, the Penguins still remain the NHL’s most popular team. They are becoming healthier and should have a lot of regulars back Wednesday when the team hosts St Louis Blues. The trade conversation is heating up with all the activity on the ice as we approach the deadline. It will be a busy couple of months for Penguins management.
Shane covers any and everything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. His passion for the game and unique perspective make him a constant contributor to the THW community. Certainly versatile, you can find Seney also contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow Seney on Twitter @ShugMcSween