As always, Bryan Rust is filling several roles for the Penguins
During Wednesday’s morning skate at PPG Paints Arena, Penguins forward Bryan Rust found himself in a familiar spot on the right wing next to Evgeni Malkin.
Earlier in training camp, he was skating in a fourth line role with Teddy Blueger.
At some point this season, he probably will line up next to Sidney Crosby.
Or Nick Bjugstad. Or Jared McCann. Or Dominik Simon.
Or some other player not yet on the roster.
As has been the case throughout his existence with the Penguins, Rust has been used on a variety of lines throughout this training camp. The value of versatility is something Rust realized immediately upon making his NHL debut in 2014-15.
“Since Day 1,” said Rust, entering his sixth NHL season. “When you’re a younger guy trying to make your mark, you’re kind of up and down the lineup. I got pretty good at being able to adapt to linemates, and I turned into the type of player that I am.”
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, who has worked with Rust since serving as the coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins early in the 2015-16 season, suggested Rust’s adaptability was a more gradual undertaking.
“It just evolved over time,” Sullivan said. “He’s a guy that I think can be a catalyst for getting lots of lines going because of his speed and his ability to disrupt the opponent, whether it be on the breakouts or forcing errant passes or creating turnovers. That’s really what he’s done for us since he’s been here. And (Rust) has done a really good job of understanding what he brings to the table. And he maximizes that strength, in my opinion.
“He’s a guy that we think if a line is struggling or we think a line needs a jolt, he’s usually a guy that’s in the conversation for potentially putting him on the line.”
Unlike other wingers such as Jake Guentzel, who is virtually bolted onto Crosby’s left wing, Rust rarely enters a stretch of games knowing who his center will be on a regular basis.
“Being in this locker room long enough, I’m fairly familiar with all the guys and the new guys that come in,” Rust said. “I think I’m fairly good at reading how guys play and being able to see how they play then try to adapt my game a little bit.”
Said Crosby: “It’s probably kind of been like that since he’s gotten here. He’s played a lot of different roles. He does a lot of things well. That allows him to play with different guys. His speed and the way he forechecks and and creates turnovers, he’s obviously a guy that kills a lot of penalties too. … All those things, he’s just a responsible guy who can play in any spot. Pretty much has been that way since he’s got here. That’s a credit to him.”
Notes: Goaltender Matt Murray is expected to start and complete tonight’s preseason contest against the Detroit Red Wings. … Defenseman John Marino participated in the morning skate after missing Tuesday’s practice because of an undisclosed injury.
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .