The Ottawa Senators have convinced another college player to turn pro, this time signing Jonathan Gruden to a three-year entry-level contract. Gruden played just a single season at Miami University (Ohio), after being selected 95th overall last June. His deal will kick in during the 2019-20 season, though it could actually slide forward another year since Gruden is still only 18.
A former member of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Gruden was actually expected by many to go higher in the 2018 draft after an impressive 2017-18 season. On a team that had a dominant top line of Jack Hughes, Oliver Wahlstrom and Joel Farabee, Gruden was the key to their secondary scoring and could be moved around to help bring the best out of many of the other players. A tireless worker at both ends of the rink he is seen as a very solid NHL prospect even if his ceiling isn’t nearly as high as some of his former teammates.
Still, there’s good reason to believe he has a path to the NHL in Ottawa given their complete tear down. That won’t happen next season, but Gruden obviously saw his chance to start working with the organization and get his professional career started. Interestingly though his CHL rights are held by the London Knights, a team that Ottawa was happy to send Alex Formenton back to this season to continue his development. The Senators could potentially send him there if they think he has more work to do, but much of that will be determined this summer in development and training camp.