The offseason is here. There is work that needs to be done. One of the easy decisions this offseason will be the choice to keep Bryan Rust around with a multi-year extension. Rust is best known for his timely goals in the playoffs, but you don’t want to overpay because of circumstantial playoff success. That lesson is proven year after year. The good news is that the Penguins wouldn’t be paying for big playoff goals. Turns out Bryan Rust is a pretty darn good player anyways.
Bryan Rust’s greatest asset is his ability to skate. This translates well in all zones and in all situations. He is able to move up and down the lineup and play both right and left wing. This give Mike Sullivan a great deal of flexibility when creating lineups.
This is a skating league and the players that can are a great asset. Look no further than the teams still left standing. To be a good player you also need to utilize that speed in an effective way and that is where hockey IQ comes into play. This helps with controlled zone entries and exits. Bryan Rust does a really great job in this area with the information we have.
Corey Sznajder’s tracking data combined with CJ Turtoro’s visualizations do a wonderful job of highlighting this information. The only downfall to the data is that it is limited. We have ~300 minutes of information. The sample we have shows that Bryan Rust does a great job of skating the puck in and out of the zone.
Corey’s work and CJ’s visualizations can be found here
Playing with Sidney Crosby makes life a lot easier in both of these areas, but it reminds me of when Christ Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis played with 87 all those years. Yeah, the situation is ideal, but you still have to execute. Rust helps drive possession on a team that is usually pretty good at it the past two years. Relative to his teammates in 2016-17 he was + 1.91% and this year it skyrocketed to +6.07%.
Offensively Rust is adequate. In 2016-17 his 5v5 points per 60 was 1.88 which is great. This year it dropped to 1.56. Rust set a career high with 38 points this year in 69 games. In 2016-17 he had a career high of 13 goals. These totals don’t jump off the page and when combined with his RFA status should keep his next contract reasonable for the team.
Matt Cane does a great job with his salary predictions and this is what he has for Bryan Rust. Each salary figure is AAV for the life of the contract. The price goes up when you start buying UFA years.
To see all of Matt’s salary predictions you can go to this link
Bryan Rust isn’t the easiest value to peg down, but I think the chart above is a reasonable guess. I was thinking a four-year deal in the neighborhood of 3M. Given his RFA status and the fact he probably doesn’t want to leave his current situation I don’t think the team will have to pony up the 3.77M in Matt’s formula.
Given Rust’s skating ability, ability to play anywhere in the lineup, and acceptable depth scoring I think the team and player would do well to be near that 3M AAV.
Thanks for reading!