As per Matt Vensel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the new deal signed between forward Bryan Rust and the Pittsburgh Penguins isn’t one that shouldn’t adversely affect the team’s ability to sign Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. In fact, the Rust deal signals the Penguins are trying to remain competitive and a fair deal puts the ball in the court of the two veterans to finalize their extensions.

Related: Penguins and Bryan Rust Agree to Long-Term Contract Extension

The six-year, $30.75 million dollar contract extension the Penguins signed with Rust gives the forward security and the organization a 20-goal guy for the next number of years. It also gives, according to Vensel, the Penguins a chance to re-sign Malkin and Letang if either or both are willing to do what Rust did and sign a deal that isn’t outrageous. There is a lot of talk that this could be the end of an era in Pittsburgh, but both Malkin and Letang have said they’d like to return. Rust’s deal will test that theory and it puts the ball in the court of the two veterans to help make something work.

Evgeni Malkin Bryan Rust Penguins

Will either play ball, or will they stick to their guns and try to hit a home run during negotiations? Making matters more interesting is that the Penguins came up during talks with Rust. There’s no reason to assume they won’t do the same to keep their older core together. There is a limit though.

The Rust deal could signal the end for a couple of other players, specifically Rickard Rakel, Evan Rodrigues and Kasperi Kapanen. Vensel writes:

It will definitely have an impact down the depth chart. It could close the door on a return for deadline pickup Rickard Rakell. Evan Rodrigues might also be affected; he has certainly earned a pay bump. And while Kasperi Kapanen should receive his modest qualifying offer, that situation could get dicey in arbitration.

It was going to be difficult to keep everyone in Pittsburgh; such is the downside of the salary cap. For the Penguins, the choice becomes what the team would rather keep. Is this about keeping the veterans together for one more run? Or, is it about moving on and potentially signing talent who are still in their best years, or adding free agents that offer a brighter long-term future?

If management and ownership think the Penguins can contend, a retool and rebuild isn’t in the cards. The Rust deal also seemed to make that fairly clear as well.

Next: Should the Maple Leafs Sign Jack Campbell At Any Cost?

The post Rust Deal Puts Pressure On Penguins’ Malkin and Letang to Get Deals Done appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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