The situation is not getting better for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Amidst a four-game winless streak and a power play that has not scored in 37 attempts, coach Mike Sullivan announced winger Bryan Rust is out week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
Rust, 31, left after the second period of the Penguins 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning last Wednesday at Amalie Arena.
As of Sunday morning, the player surplus forced the team to remove Rust’s locker stall at PPG Paints Arena, replaced by newly signed free agent tryout Jesse Puljujarvi.
Puljujarvi is on a free-agent tryout and did not skate Monday as re-acclimates to hockey activity after double hip resurfacing surgery over the summer.
Rust has been one of the dynamic players for the Penguins this season. He has 10 goals and 10 assists in 22 games and is a plus-13. He’s in the second year of a six-year contract with a $5.125 million average annual value.
Without Rust in the lineup, coaches were forced to juggle the lineup for the third period in Tampa Bay and the game Friday against the Florida Panthers, On Wednesday, Sullivan put Evgeni Malkin on the line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.
Rust also missed a couple of games earlier this season with an upper-body injury. The long-term injured reserve situation will be a little murky while Rickard Rakell is also on LTIR. The Penguins won’t get additional relief until they activate Rakell.