The 2022 version of our Pensburgh Under-25 Top 25 countdown list continues with a player considered Matt Murray’s trade throw-in.
Related: 2022 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Deaths
#25: Nolan Collins
#24: Colin Swoyer
#23: Jonathan Gruden – LW
Ranking 2021: 16
Age: 22 (May 4, 2000)
Acquired via: exchange of Matt Murray in 2020 with Ottawa Senators
Height/Weight: 6’0″ / 170 lbs
Heading into his second pro season, it’s not like expectations are sky-high for Jonathan Gruden. Now, that’s not to say he’s not a good player or unworthy of his roster spot, but given the Penguins’ prospect pool, even with his shallow depth, Gruden has never been tagged. as a “can’t miss” player.
Gruden was tasked with playing a physical role in the last six for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton club, and at the end of the season found himself as the team leader in games played, appearing in 75 matches out of 76 possible. Reliability and trustworthiness are always positive traits.
Offensively, Gruden nearly doubled his point total from his first season with the Baby Penguins. Double-digit goals and assists are positive increases, but the number I really care about is the 78 penalty minutes. While Gruden has played just 32 games in 2020-21, racking up 13 PIMs, the 78 PIM lends more credence to the idea that coaches want the winger to adopt the physique of a typical bottom-line striker .
Even if he has to step into the NHL limelight, Gruden will never be seen as a constant source of offense; he’ll have to rely on his physical play and defensive responsibilities, and maybe he’ll contribute to the scoresheet from time to time. Coaches in this league will apparently always find a place for this type of hard worker and grinder on the bottom lines.
However, heading into his 22-year-old season, with this year being the last of his entry-level contract, Gruden will need to make progress in his game if he is to receive his first official call-up in the 2022 season. -23. country. His teammates Valtteri Puustinen, Drew O’Connor and Filip Hallander all got a brief glimpse of NHL action over the past season. And in O’Connor’s case, he could be on the opening night roster on Oct. 13.
At 22, there’s still time for Gruden to become something of a latecomer. He was widely projected as one of the NHL’s final six players. And he should stay on that trajectory, if not surpass it somewhat if he delivers an impressive 2022-23 season in the AHL.