Penguins News & Rumors: Rust, Second Line Changes & More

Welcome to Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors where we cover all the hot topics surrounding the hockey club and dive into more than just the box scores. Get ready for some rapid-fire headlines that will run us through all the noise surrounding Pittsburgh’s beloved Penguins.

Penguins Forward Named as Trade Bait

This week one of the best insiders in hockey, Frank Seravalli reported that Penguins forward Bryan Rust has become prime trade bait. The Penguins management and Rust’s representatives engaged in some contract extension talks last summer, but this chatter has gone quiet since.

Bryan Rust is a huge piece that’s missing for the Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Rust, who is laboring with a lower-body injury, is considered week-to-week at the moment. His absence in the lineup has certainly been felt, even with Evan Rodrigues stepping up in a big way. Rust is a huge part of the Penguins’ success and is coming off a season in 2020-21 where he recorded 22 goals and 42 points in 56 games. The 29-year-old winger has great chemistry with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel and is eager to get back into the lineup and contribute.

The Michigan native is currently making $3.5 million annually and given that he’s tallied 42 and 56 points in the past two seasons, Rust is certainly due for a raise. The Penguins will be open to meeting a certain price point, there’s no doubt there, but the team also has Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin to worry about, and just based on service time with the franchise, expect to see Rust’s extension pushed to the back of the pile. That’s if he isn’t traded, but personally I just don’t see that happening given the fact this Penguins team, when completely healthy, could do some damage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the team ends up sliding and can’t get back to their winning ways, then yes, Rust will be moved and perhaps management circles back on a contract next summer.

Penguins’ Second Line Absolutely Awful Lately

There’s no doubt injuries are playing a major factor here, but let’s call a spade a spade — the Penguins need more from their second line to stand any chance of remaining in the playoff picture. The likes of Jason Zucker, Jeff Carter and Kasperi Kapanen can’t seem to get on the same page.

Jason Zucker Pittsburgh Penguins
Jason Zucker’s name has been all over trade rumors this season (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Here’s what the second line has been up to recently:

Last 10 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsPower Play Points+/-Shots On Goal
Snapshot of the past 10 games for the Penguins second line

A combined 11 points in 10 games from what’s supposed to be three of the team’s most productive players is not going to get the job done. The Penguins know Malkin is going to be returning in the next couple of weeks, but still the second line needs to take advantage of the chances they are getting and execute. We can see from the number of shots they have collected in the past 10 games that they certainly get their fair share of chances, but the dismal shooting percentage and the combined minus-9 rating just isn’t cutting it for the Penguins.

Related: 3 Potential Trade Destinations for Jason Zucker

Once Pittsburgh is back to full strength, if that ever does come, you can expect to see Carter moved down to the third-line center role and Malkin given a shot with Zucker and Kapanen. The Penguins legend has looked great in the small sample size with Kapanen but everything we saw last season with Zucker on the left was underwhelming. Likely an aspect of the team that management is trying to address before the trade deadline is upgrading on the wing for the second line.

Penguins’ Third Jerseys Revealed and Look Awesome

Earlier this week the organization revealed their third jerseys and the schedule we can all expect to see them wearing the new threads. The response from the fan base has been excellent as the new-but-old design is a very popular look and reminds many of the Mario Lemieux days.

The Penguins will be wearing their throwback jerseys for 12 home games during the 2021-22 season, beginning on Dec. 11 when they host the Anaheim Ducks at PPG Paints Arena. They’ve gone back to the diagonal text, which is a huge hit with the fan base.

Not only does it pay homage to the Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr days, the jersey reminds everyone of Snoop Dogg who has made this throwback popular off the ice as the beloved Penguins fan is often seen wearing it when performing concerts. The Penguins will wear their third jerseys a total of two times in December, three in January, once in February, three times in March and three times in April.

The Penguins are still in western Canada, facing off against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night and looking to snap a three-game winless streak. They’ll then head to Seattle to take on the Kraken early next week, in two games that are very important for the club to take advantage of some teams they should be beating. If they lose these next two games, and the streak goes to five games, expect to see a giant spotlight cast on the Penguins about making some changes to the roster.

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