As the Penguins look to close out the Eastern Conference Finals with a win on Tuesday, they know that Ottawa is going to play their best game of the playoffs. They’ve got to be ready to push back. Forward Carter Rowney is ready to do just that.
Rowney has been one of the constants on a Penguins roster that has been banged up all season long. The Penguins have had young guys step up since the Stanley Cup run from last year. Why is his story more impressive?
Yes, Rowney is considered a rookie because it’s his first season in the NHL. But Rowney is 28 years old. He’s been through every rank and worked hard to be on the Penguins roster as he is now.
Rowney’s path to this point hasn’t been easy. He played his college hockey at the University of North Dakota. He went undrafted and was brought into the Penguins organization by signing with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL. He spent parts of two seasons there before receiving the call to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to play in the AHL. It was a crazy feeling for someone who had never really dreamed of a post-college hockey career. He was living it.
He spent parts of another three or four seasons in the AHL just trying to make a name for himself. Last year, he finally did that.
Rowney showed his offensive potential scoring 24 goals and 56 points in 74 games.
Back tracking a few years, Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin got to watch Rowney in Wheeling and said that “he saw something special but couldn’t tell what it was” in Rowney. Now, Rowney has been one of the team’s most consistently good players in these playoffs.
He played in 26 AHL games this year scoring 21 points before he got the call to the NHL and made his debut on March 9. He’s been in and out of the lineup but has seemingly gotten better every time he’s been pulled out. He sat out most of the Capitals series, but when reinserted for game seven of the series, he hasn’t looked back.
There is nothing flashy about his offensive game. He makes the play he needs to make but if a defense first kind of player. He isn’t offensively challenged, however, as he proved over the last two seasons he played in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Consistency is something the Penguins greatly need with the injuries they’re dealing with, especially on the back end missing Kris Letang and Justin Schultz, their top two defensemen. Rowney has provided that this entire series and he’s being rewarded with some third line minutes. He’s shaping himself into an everyday NHL player after seemingly never being a thought in the organization’s head.