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The Pittsburgh Penguins took the plunge in Wilkes-Barre and recalled forward Jonathan Gruden.

From the team.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled forward Jonathan Gruden from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, general manager Ron Hextall announced today.

Gruden, 22, had 11 goals, 5 assists, 16 points and a plus-2 for WBS in 2022-23. His 11 goals is an AHL career high and ranks third on the team behind only Alex Nylander (14) and Valtteri Puustinen (13). He has five goals and six points in his last three WBS games.

The 6-foot, 172-pound forward is in his third pro season, all in the WBS, where he has 57 points (27G-30A) in 139 games. He appeared in five AHL playoff games, collecting three points (1G-2A).

Gruden has yet to make his NHL debut, coming to the Pittsburgh organization in the trade that sent Matt Murray to Ottawa. This is his third year in the pro ranks, slowly growing into his role in Wilkes-Barre, and his first call-up to an NHL roster outside of training camp with the NHL Penguins.

While Wilkes-Barre has some skilled teammates with better overall season stats, no one on that club has been in as good shape as Gruden has been lately. As mentioned above, Gruden has five goals and one assist in just his last three games for Wilkes. The added offensive twist is a nice touch for Gruden. Last season, 2021-22, he scored just 10 goals in 75 AHL games. He already has a career-high 11 AHL goals in just 32 games so far this season.

A natural center, Gruden has been game this weekend Between Drake Caggiula and Nathan Legare on the AHL Penguins main line.

Ranked 23rd in our PensBurgh Top 25 Under 25 last summer, Gruden likely has limited upside due to his skill set, but could be a hard-working, defensively responsible energy center. The son of a coach (his pop, Jon Gruden, isn’t a former Raiders coach, but is currently an assistant with the Boston Bruins), Jonathan Gruden Jr. is a player who can be counted on for good positioning and the little things. stay on the right side and make safe, smart plays on the ice. Lately, he’s been doing a lot more than his hitting streak over the past week, which has certainly opened some eyes in Pittsburgh and made his presence in the big leagues desirable to the Penguin brass.

Pittsburgh only had 12 healthy forwards on an NHL roster before this call-up, and has had a few question marks or worse in the bottom six lately. The Pens were off today, and we still don’t know if this is just a depth move or if Gruden could be included tomorrow against Anaheim in a move that would change the lineup of forwards they’ve been using lately. bottom lines.


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