There is one thing that is not up for discussion. This is a good deal for pens.
The franchise holds the two-time Stanley Cup title with 73 goals over the past three years. Plus he’s a guy who can play effectively with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.
Six years seems long. Rust will be 36 by the time the contract expires.
But the $5.125 million per year cap is surprisingly affordable. Many forecasts Rust had at least $6 million a year. And finding any worthy top-six winger to replace Rast in free agency, or by trade, will likely cost the same, if not more.
See, for example, Jason Zucker. He’s scored just 23 goals in his two-and-a-half year in Pittsburgh, and will make more than Rust’s next year ($5.5 million).
But will there be a ripple effect? Is there anything to be learned from the team’s decision to keep Rast in terms of its goals to also keep Evgeny Malkin and Chris Letang?
“I’m a little surprised they prioritized[Rust]. But they probably thought it was the most signature of the big three free agents,” Madden said. “Maybe Letang now be more affordable? I don’t know. But I know it’s still an accessory team if I keep Letang. I also know that if they don’t sign Jeff Carter on that deal ($3.125 million), it would be nice to get that money to work out in pursuit of Letang or Malkin.”
Madden said there is no easily accessible annual average limit for Owners and Letang as it was with Rust.
Will I give Letang Five (Years) with Nine (Million Dollars)? Can. But maybe not. But if you do, you do the qualifying. “If you don’t turn the page,” Madden said.
As for the owners?
“He was shot,” Madden said. “Five out of five, he’s not a good player anymore. His knee might not come back. But then his knee might never come back.”
There’s also some tea leaves to read about what this signature will say about General Manager Ron Hextal’s future. Many are wondering if the team’s new ownership – Fenway Sports Group – wants to keep Hextall in that position.
Yet he has just signed this important contract.
“I wonder if he’ll be in charge in a couple of weeks. The fact that this Rust deal is done, sort of suggests that he will be. It doesn’t guarantee that. But that kind of suggests it will be,” Madden said.
Also on the podcast, Madden and I discussed the implications of Rust’s deal for Rickard Raquel. We’re talking about the second round of the NHL playoffs, the Steelers minicamp, the NIL college bases, the transfer gate and the Pirates’ 18-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
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