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Penguins recall forward Jonathan Gruden

The Pens bring up a minor league forward for the first time in his career

NHL: SEP 25 Blue Jackets at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins have dipped into 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, it was announced today by general manager Ron Hextall.

Gruden, 22, has spent the 2022-23 season with WBS, tallying 11 goals, five assists, 16 points and is plus-2. His 11 goals are an AHL career high and rank third on the team behind only Alex Nylander (14) and Valtteri Puustinen (13). He has five goals and six points over WBS’ last three games.

The 6-foot, 172-pound forward is in his third professional season, all with WBS, where he’s notched 57 points (27G-30A) in 139 games. He’s appeared in five AHL playoff games, accumulating three points (1G-2A).

Gruden has yet to make his NHL debut, coming over to the Pittsburgh organization in the trade that sent Matt Murray to Ottawa. This is his third year in the pro ranks, which has been spent slowly growing a role in Wilkes-Barre and his very first re-call to the NHL roster outside of spending time with the NHL Penguins in training camp.

While there are some skilled teammates in Wilkes-Barre with better overall season stats, no one on that club has been in quite as fine of form as Gruden has been lately. As mentioned above, Gruden has scored five goals and added one assist in just the last three games for Wilkes. The added offensive upside is a nice touch for Gruden. Last season in 2021-22, he only scored 10 goals in 75 AHL games. He already has set a career-high with 11 AHL goals this season in only 32 games to date.

A natural center, Gruden has been playing this weekend between Drake Caggiula and Nathan Legare on a key line for the AHL Penguins.

Gruden was ranked 23rd in our PensBurgh Top 25 Under 25 series last summer, he probably has a limited upside due to his skill-set, but can be a hard-working, defensively responsible energy center. The son of a coach (his pop John Gruden isn’t the former Raiders coach but is currently an assistant with the Boston Bruins), the younger Jonathan Gruden is a player that can be counted on to be well-positioned and do the little things to stay on the correct side of the puck and make safe, smart plays on the ice. Lately he’s been doing a lot more than that with his red hot goal-scoring over the past week, which no doubt opened some eyes in Pittsburgh and made his presence in the big leagues desirable to Penguin brass.

Pittsburgh only had 12 healthy forwards on the NHL roster prior to this call-up, and have had several question marks or worse lately in their bottom six. The Pens were off today, and we don’t yet know if this is a move strictly for depth, or one that could get Gruden into the lineup tomorrow against Anaheim in a move that would shift around the forwards they have been using lately on the bottom lines.