Welcome to the recaps of the season. Starting today we’re going to review the individuals from the 2016-17 back-to-back Stanley Cup winning champion Pittsburgh Penguins! It makes sense and actually is a good split to go from least games played to most, and we’ll start today with Carter Rowney.
Rowney had an excellent training camp to start his 4th professional season, and along with Jake Guentzel were the final two forward cuts for the team. Rowney joined Oskar Sundqvist as the top “checking line” type of call-ups, with Guentzel seen as the “scoring line” call-up role. Obviously not too much was expected out of a 27-year old with no NHL history, but Rowney had literally worked his way up the ladder to be in the NHL conversation for the first time and was thought to have a good chance to make an NHL debut thanks to injuries...If we only knew what that opportunity would turn into at season’s end.
Regular season: 27 games played: 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, +2, 4 PIMs, 10:58 Time On Ice per game
Playoffs: 20gp, 0g+3a = 3p, +3, 4 PIMs, 12:17 TOI/game
5v5 Points/60: 1.58 (10th among top 14 minutes playing forwards on the team)
Corsi For %: 48.8% (10th among top 14 forwards)
Goals For %: 56.6% (9th/14)
PDO: 101.7 (6th/14)
5v5 Shots/60: 5.41 (13th/14)
Rowney's Season, Game-by-Game (via HockeyViz, explained here):
Rowney's 5v5 Teammates and Competition (via HockeyViz, explained here):
Rowney's With-or-Without You (via HockeyViz, explained here):
Rowney’s Goals Against Replacement (GAR) Components (chart by @ChartingHockey, data by @DTMAboutHeart, explained here, Tableau here):
(This is a new chart and as we get to more substantial players who had more games and impact on the season, it will be better displayed, but worth a read to see more of the data.)
As mentioned above, Rowney was among the last cut from training camp, and would remain in Wilkes-Barre until the end of January. He was recalled on Jan 26th (in what was already at that point a fairytale-like journey for a 27-year old to get his first chance in the NHL). Rowney wasn’t needed for that game and returned to the minors the next day. That would be brief, three days later on 1/30 Rowney was recalled to Pittsburgh and he wouldn’t be back in the AHL again all season, appearing in his NHL career debut on 1/31 (ironically foreshadowing what was to come in a 4-2 win over Nashville).
Rowney got a dash of a review in the February Ups and Downs with the comment of:
Got to play 8 games, didn't do much with it (0g+1a) but was good winning 61.7% of the 60 faceoffs he took. Rowney could be up in the 12th/13th/14th depth forward role for the rest of the season. He doesn't look too out of place in the NHL, but he's hardly a difference making player.
In the March Ups and Downs, he received another dash, and here’s what we wrote back then of his performance:
Appearing in 13 games (in March), Rowney's becoming a late season regular by virtue of the injuries. He doesn't really add a lot tangibly (1g+1a, only 12 SOG, 43.1% in the faceoff circle) but is decent enough all-around not to be a total anchor. The Penguins have probably had worse REGULAR 4th liners in recent years past, so we'll just have to live with it until more players get healthy.
Rowney would play in 32 of the first 39 games he was around (from Jan 31 - end of the 1st round CBJ series) but when the forwards briefly returned to health for the start of the Washington series, Rowney found himself a healthy scratch in five of the first six games for that series. But he got a jersey for the Game 7 win and the last 12 games of the season as well to appear in all of the games against Ottawa and Nashville.
Interesting stat: Rowney only scored 3 points in the playoffs, all assists, and all in the same game (G5 vs OTT in a 7-0 win). In fact, that 3-point game tied Rowney (with some bums named Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Guentzel and Kunitz) for the most points by a Penguin in a single game in the 2017 Stanley Cup run. Now there’s a stat that he can impress his future grandkids with!
A resounding success of a season for Rowney. Make NHL debut (and the relatively ancient age of an NHL first-timer at 27), play most the games down the stretch and playoffs for a champion, get named engraved on Cup. He may have only scored 3 goals (and 7 assists) in his 47 total games, he added some size, a RH-shot and compete level for the Pens 4th line that turned out to be badly needed, especially since a good playoff performer last year in Tom Kuhnhackl ended up missing a lot of time with injury.
Question for the comments
After a glorious run, what’s next for Rowney? He played mainly RW in the NHL, but showed some center capability and took 7.3 faceoffs per game. Should he get a crack at filling an opening at 4th line center? Or if not, where does Rowney fit in NHL plans? The team has enough RW’s with Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust and Ryan Reaves all in the mix (and possibly Jake Guentzel too if he remains with Crosby) .So does Rowney get the 13th forward spot if he’s not 4C? Or does Kuhnhackl beat him for that too? In a cap world the Penguins usually don’t have the luxury of space to keep 14 healthy forwards, so ultimately do you see Rowney finding a niche in 2017-18 in Pittsburgh?