Pens Rookie Profile- Jonathan Gruden
22-year-old forward Jonathan Gruden is making his NHL debut with the Pens.
Jonathan Gruden is an American forward who comes to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization from Rochester, Michigan. Born on May 4, 2000, he developed a passion for the game at a young age after following in the footsteps of his father former NHL player and current Boston Bruins assistant coach John Gruden.
The younger Gruden started off in the Honeybaked youth program in Michigan before beginning his junior hockey career with the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), where he played for two seasons in the USHL. During that time he was also named to the United States national juniors team and helped them win a silver medal at the 2018 World Junior Championships.
After that success, Gruden was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the fourth round (95th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He then began playing college hockey at Miami University in Ohio. He only stayed in the NCAA for a single season where he struggled to make an impact before deciding to leave the college path to sign a three-year Entry Level Contract with the Senators in 2019.
From there Gruden was assigned to the Ontario Hockey League to continue his development in major junior hockey with the powerhouse London Knights. He played a single season with London where he was among the team's top scorers producing 30 goals, 36 assists, and 66 total points in just 59 games in 2019-20.
In 2020, Gruden was traded by the Senators along with a second-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Matt Murray. With his new club he began his professional career with Pittsburgh's American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. In his two seasons with the team, he's steadily increased his offensive output and become a key role player.
Gruden is known for his versatility on the ice. He can play both center and wing, and he possesses good speed, vision, and playmaking abilities. Gruden is also noted for his strong hockey sense and mind for the game which is an understandable attribute cultivated growing up as the son of a coach. He's additionally been singled out for his work ethic and dedication to improving his game.
Off the ice, Gruden set himself apart with academic achievements and community involvement. He was named to the Academic All-NCHC Team during his college career and has volunteered with organizations like the Red Wings Alumni Association and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The 6'0, 172lbs. Jonathan Gruden runs on the leaner side but he's proven himself to be a valuable player who's known for his versatility and work ethic, and he has the potential to become a worthwhile contributor for the Pittsburgh Penguins with a few more years of maturation in the minor leagues. With his talent and dedication, he is sure to continue making an impact within the Penguins system as a handy utility forward at the AHL or NHL level.
Jonathan Gruden's Sports Forecaster Scouting Report:
“The son of former NHL defenseman John Gruden has natural point-producing acumen and good hockey sense. He is equally comfortable scoring goals himself or setting up linemates. Does not have ideal size for the National Hockey League, so he needs to add more bulk and get physically stronger in order to maximize output at the highest level. Also lacks consistency.
Long Range Potential: Solid, point-producing forward with upside.”