Who is this guy?
What are they saying about him?
In his Draft Profile, Rust was said to be "like a younger version of Dustin Brown. He has a great attitude and work ethic. He improves every day." There have also been a few fan comments from people that had watched him in his younger days in Michigan that suggested he was similar to a young Chris Kunitz. Both are pretty flattering comparisons, not a flashy player, but with solid grit and able to get the job done.
He has been noted as being effective all over the ice, though his offensive output can be a bit streaky and his goals are hard fought dirty goals, like the one he scored as the final game winner in the scrimmage at this year's Prospect Development Camp. He excels at the PK but has also shown an increasing comfort level playing on the PP. He is a two-way forward that tends to be used in clutch situations when the game is on the line and they need somebody they can rely on.
Where has he been?
Rust came up through the US National Development Team Program, where he stood out playing alongside some big names and being an integral part of his World Junior U18 Gold Medal for Team USA. After being drafted he moved up to the University of Notre Dame where he has played for the past 3 seasons. As a Freshman they made it all the way to the Frozen Four, losing in the national semi-finals, and last year as CCHA Champions returned to the tournament by were eliminated in the regional semi-finals. Last season he was #2 on his team in both Goals and Points, and nt only did he lead his team in +/- Rating he was #4 in the entire NCAA.
When can we expect to see him?
He is entering his senior season in the NCAA, so in the late spring when they finish up for the year he will be eligible to join the team on an Amateur Try-Out. Most likely he will wind up in Wheeling or WBS, as that is the usual destination for our late season "Taxi Squad" or "Black Aces" players. He still remains unsigned, so he needs to earn a contract not long after graduation if he wants to remain in the system, but with how well he has progressed in the NCAA I wouldn't be shocked to see him turning pro playing in Wheeling or WBS next fall. Of course it would still be a few years after that before he is ready to move up to Pittsburgh.
Why is he #23?
Rust received 1 vote for 10th, 1 vote for 16th, 1 vote for 17th, 1 vote for 19th, 1 vote for 23rd, 2 votes for 25th, and 2 omitted him from the Top 25.
How can he climb the list?
He just needs to continue to improve and to make a name for himself. One reason he was ranked so low is because as a college prospect many fans know nothing about him. If Notre Dame can win in their new Hockey East division and make another run into the Frozen Four it will put him into the national spotlight. And he is only 21, so he still has a number of years of development before he is ready to make an impact, so a bit of work bulking up is the standard suggestion for young players, especially a gritty slightly smaller player like Rust. He has already shown an ability to play solid defensively and on the PK, so one thing that could stand to improve is his offensive vision and goal scoring.
"That's actually the biggest key to my game, I've got to keep my confidence up. (I’m) just looking to be a little more creative in the offensive zone. I can kind of think a little bit too responsibly sometimes, trying to not make mistakes. I have to maybe make a move, make a move, get a little more creative."